Innovative project aims to gain landmark “One Planet Living” accreditation

Belfast Harbour has commenced work on the City Quays Gardens, a £3m project to develop a vibrant new urban garden in the city which is expected to be completed by August 2024.

The City Quays Gardens project has been masterplanned in a number of phases, with the phase one investment focusing on the creation of a 2-acre green public space on land between City Quays and the historic Belfast Harbour Office.

Northern Ireland construction firm Northstone (NI) Ltd has been appointed as lead contractor for the project, which will develop new public space for local and visiting communities which will blend the rich industrial and maritime heritage of the area with an innovative and sustainable design.

City Quays Gardens aims to achieve the ‘One Planet Living’ environmental accreditation, a first in Northern Ireland. The Gardens incorporates an eco-conscious design and aims to create new habitats for wildlife, enhancing biodiversity.

One Planet Living is a sustainability framework created by Bioregional, a charity and social enterprise which aims to develop more sustainable ways of living and developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. The framework focuses on key principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability, which are weaved into the design and development of City Quays Gardens.

The new Gardens will blend the maritime heritage of the site with sustainable design, featuring richly planted green spaces with seating, extensive tree planting, events lawns with amphitheatre seating and outdoor workspace supported with publicly available Wi-Fi.

The project is also designed to help promote active and sustainable travel, reconnecting the National Cycle Network by incorporating an off-road alternative cycle route along the City’s waterfront. It will also improve pedestrian and cycle connections within close proximity to a range of public transport halts, including York Street Railway station.

Belfast Harbour is working closely with Maritime Belfast Trust and Belfast City Council to ensure that the new space can be animated with events, activities and historic trails and that it seamlessly integrates with the Maritime Mile and other public space developments within the city.

Joe O’Neill, CEO, Belfast Harbour said: “It is fantastic to see work starting on City Quays Gardens, the latest part of the City Quays masterplan and a key part of our vision to develop an iconic waterfront for the city. We are collaborating with partners to create a vibrant space that all communities can enjoy, and which contributes to making Belfast an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest.“

This investment will transform the public space around City Quays, making it an attractive leisure space for visitors and better connecting the Harbour Estate to our neighbouring communities. We believe the new Gardens will also contribute to Belfast Harbour’s sustainability goal of reaching net zero carbon by 2030 and enhance the wellbeing of local communities and visitors alike.”

Daniel Dempster, Northstone said: “City Quays Gardens is a really exciting project to be involved with, supporting Belfast Harbour in their ambition to create a green space of communities in the City Centre.  The high sustainability standard associated with this project make it really interesting to work on and I am very much looking forward to seeing it come together and people enjoying the space.”