Sailortown to Titanic Quarter Bridge, Belfast

 

Status
Construction scheme (proposed)
Where
To construct a new foot and cycle bridge across the River Lagan connecting Sailortown in north Belfast to Titanic Quarter.
Total Length
Approx 150 metres
Dates

August 2023 - Belfast City Council confirms it is to apply to the Rep of Ireland's Shared Island Fund for the proposed scheme

No timescale for construction - as of Nov 2023

Cost

Not yet known (as of Aug 2023)

See Also

General area map

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

This proposal is to build a foot and cycle bridge across the mouth of the River Lagan in Belfast from Sailortown to Titanic Quarter. A specific location has not been publicised, but one obvious route would be on a line running from near St Joseph's Church across to Hamilton Dock - see map below. This would make the bridge about 150 metres long. Due to the presence of the marina upstream of this location, where high-masted ships dock, the new bridge would either have to be very high or, more likely, have an opening segment to allow ships to pass through.

Sailortown was once a thriving, densely-populated area but was largely demolished in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for the M2 and Belfast Urban Motorway, the latter of which evolved to become the M3 Lagan Bridge and Westlink. Titanic Quarter is on Queen's Island and was once the core of the city's shipbuilding industry. Over the past 30 years both areas has been rejuvenated by office and residential developments, and the council sees linking the two with a bridge to be a high priority.

River Lagan flowing SW to NE with
                          Sailortown on the left and Titanic Quarter on
                          the right.

Progress

13 Dec 2023: The Waterfront Task Group (WTG) issued a report on 7 December exploring a vision for how the Lagan waterfront could be further improved over the next couple of decades. The WTG is an umbrella group comprising various bodies including DFI, DFC, Belfast City Council and quite a few others*, so represents a wide range of perspectives. Their new report is called the "The Belfast Waterfront, Framework Summary" and while it contains a lot, for the purposes of this web page it places major importance on this footbridge. It proposes a route close to what I suggested was likely in the previous update. The image below shows the route proposed. You can see that it connects what they have called "Hickson's Point" at Abercorn Basin to "Barrow Square", which is the area immediately in front of St Joseph's Church in Sailortown. The report sees provision of the bridge as vital for connectivity in the area, especially in terms of generating new "passing trade" through increased footfall on both banks. The report isn't a commitment to build the bridge; it's a concept. However in the concept the bridge is envisaged as having the following elements: 

  • New footbridge that ties into the waterfront promenade and connects with the wider transit network.
  • Statement swing bridge design to maintain sailboat access to the marina.
  • Placemaking on bridge landings on both sides of the river including shelter and restrooms.

Belfast City Council intends to bid for cash Dublin's Shared Island Fund for the bridge, so as of now the scheme does seem to have some momentum about it, rather than being something on a 'wish list'. The next step is probably to see if the scheme gets cash to be developed further. A scheme like this would likely cost over 10m; over 20m for a swing design.

*Full list of members of the Waterfront Task Group includes Maritime Belfast Trust, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Titanic Quarter Limited, Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure, Department for Economy, Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Tourism NI and Innovation Belfast. The Task Group is chaired by the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council.

Location of Lagan footbridge from
                          Hickson's Point in Titanic Quarter to Barrow
                          Square in Sailortown
Proposed location of the Titanic Quarter Bridge as of December 2023 [Waterfront Task Group]

1 Nov 2023: In August 2023 it was reported that Belfast City Council were going to make a bid for funding to Dublin's Shared Island Fund. The bid would include this proposed bridge. The Council said that the proposed bridge would "improve connections between the Sailortown community and the Queen's Island economic opportunities, re-stitching the original ship-building facilities at Clarendon Dock with maritime facilities on the eastern quays". If the scheme succeeds as the initial proposal the next step would be a feasibility study which would look at possible locations and provide the first estimated costs.