Ambitious park plan loses bridge

Belfast City Council has lost out on EU money to help build a £7m M2 motorway footbridge to its planned Giant’s Park. The council applied to the European Union’s Peace 3 programme for £5.8m but this was turned down. The park is to be built on a former landfill site on the northern shore of Belfast Lough. Councillors hope the park could become the site of a new stadium and sports village developed by two soccer clubs, Crusaders and Newington. The scheme proposed by the clubs includes a 4,200-seater stadium, along with other pitches for a variety of sports, players accommodation, a hotel and cinema and other commercial elements.

Mark Langhammer of Crusaders FC’s development team said: “I think our proposal is both commercially viable and it meets the community’s needs in terms of shared space. “We hope to be back to the council with firmed-up proposals and a governance structure within four to six weeks.” Newington FC manager Eamon McCarthy said the site was ideally located for his club’s catchment area in north Belfast. “We’ve lost our current pitch and we’ve got 13 teams with a lot of kids involved, so if we don’t get these facilities the club could go to the wall,” he said. In 2007, the Giant’s Park project missed out on £25m in funding when the National Lottery’s Living Landmarks scheme instead backed the Connswater Community Greenway in east Belfast.