What is the Lagan Corridor Project?
The River Lagan has played a central part in the history of Belfast, helping it to become one of the greatest ports in Europe and one of the UK's leading manufacturing centres by the end of the 19th century.
So, as the renaissance of Belfast gathers pace, it seems only right that the Lagan is restored to its former glory, allowing the city and its people to once again make full use of this most valuable resource.
What are the main aims of the project?
Corridor Project (see Lagan Restoration Trust) was initiated in 2006 to rejuvenate the waterway. Over the next few years, around 17 kilometres of the Lagan Navigation, from Belfast to Lisburn, will be re-opened.
Survey work is already underway to build a new lock and footbridge at Lock One at Stranmillis Weir, while it is planned to re-open two more locks in the near future, extending full waterway use right up to the City of Lisburn.
In the long term, an even more exciting prospect is projected. Plans are under consideration to open the Lagan Corridor as far as Lough Neagh, where it will link up with the Shannon and Erne Waterway, through the development of the Ulster Canal, allowing the possibility of connecting Belfast, Dublin and Limerick by canal.
Background to the Lagan Corridor Project
Following a report commissioned in 2006 by various agencies, including Belfast, Castlereagh, Craigavon and Lisburn Councils, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and the Ulster Waterways Group, it was proposed to set up the Lagan Canal Restoration Trust to oversee the development of the Lagan Navigation through to Lough Neagh.
Survey work has already been commissioned and stakeholder consultations have taken place on the first step of the process, Lock One at Stranmillis Weir.
The proposed new weir and lock, which will include a footbridge spanning the river and canal which links the Annadale Embankment and Stranmillis, will have various advantages.
As well as providing a local amenity, improved facilities will increase flood protection, reduce erosion, improve the passage of fish and provide a stable area of water to allow navigation and recreational use.
Stages Two and Three
The new weir at Stranmillis would allow further work to begin upstream. The second stage will include the restoration of Lock Two at Morelands Meadows. The third stage will be the development of the lock at the Lockkeepers Cottage (Castlereagh Council) and the building of a new weir at Shaw's Bridge, downstream of the existing weir, allowing navigation all the way to the City of Lisburn.
Depending on the availability of funding, the exciting possibility exists of extending the project from Lisburn to Lough Neagh, where it could then link up with the Shannon and Erne Waterway through the reinstatement of the Ulster Canal. This creates the possibility of traveling from Belfast to Dublin and Limerick by canal.