WORK has begun on two sections of the Forth Meadow Community Greenway, which will connect the greenway to the areas on Springfield Road, Whiterock Community Corridor, Falls Park and the Bog Meadows Nature Reserve.
The project, which is being funded by the EU, will cost approximately £5.1 million and include upgrades to existing pathways in North and West Belfast with new visitor information and map signage as well as street furniture and improvements to road junctions as well as crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
Plans involve improving the entrance to Falls Park which will be enhanced, while a new walking and cycling path will connect the park to Springfield Road. Bog Meadows Nature Reserve will also benefit from improvements to paths, additional planting and lighting
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, said: “Forth Meadow Community Greenway is a transformative project for North and West Belfast which will help regenerate neighbourhoods along its 12km route, so I’m delighted that work is now progressing on these two major sections.
“Our vision is to create welcoming shared spaces and to connect communities. Alongside the physical works, we are delivering an exciting community outreach and activity programme, with the aim of increasing interaction between communities and improving relations.
“The greenway will also make a major contribution to people’s physical and mental health, encouraging them to get outdoors, get more active and socialise. I really look forward to seeing the greenway open, and I hope that it will encourage people from further afield to explore parts of the city.”
Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, said: “My Department is committed to developing more connected and engaged communities to create attractive, safe and sustainable places for people to live, work and visit. My Department contributed £500,000 to the greenway which will become a huge asset for local communities in terms of the improved physical environment, sustainable travel and improved health.”
Also commenting on the project, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “The Forth Meadow Community Greenway is a key part of the Belfast Cycling Network. I’m delighted that my Department has committed funding of £750,000 towards this project. I want to do all I can to improve infrastructure in Belfast that will encourage more people to choose active modes of transport. When finished, this greenway will provide active travel links for communities in the north and west of the city and will enable people to change the way they travel and leave an enduring legacy to be enjoyed by future generations.”
All work is due to be finished by the end of 2022, with initial improvements completed over the coming months. A final piece of the plan also includes the development of a new shared space on former industrial land between the lower Forth River and Springfield Road.