Belfast Harbour Reveals Ambitious Growth Plans
Belfast Harbour has announced its ambition to become the best regional port in the world and create an iconic waterfront for Belfast that will be an attractive place for people to live, work and visit as well as a hub for inward investment and tourism.
The 2019-2023 Strategic plan focuses on increased collaboration and partnerships with key city stakeholders to drive growth and regeneration in Belfast’s waterfront. As part of the plan, the Port has committed £254 million of investment to deliver new marine and estate infrastructure.
Research from Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre has concluded that these investments will generate 7,000 new jobs and support a further 3,500 construction jobs generating £500 million gross value added for the Northern Ireland economy and an additional £300 million per annum in wages and £4 million in rates to the city each year.
The projects planned over the next five years will lay the foundation for even more substantial “once-in-a-generation” investments. Detailed in Belfast Harbour’s ‘2035 Outlook’ these long-term proposals include schemes to deepen the Port’s shipping channel to accommodate larger vessels, to create new deep-water quays, the completion of the 2million sq ft City Quays development and the creation of a new globally recognised science and technology hub at Catalyst Inc.
Speaking at the meeting, Belfast Harbour’s Chairman, David Dobbin, said:
“Belfast Harbour has been enabling local businesses to succeed and trade with the outside world since it began over 400 years ago. The purpose of our plans is to make sure we are fit for purpose to handle and benefit from the technological, economic and social changes taking place in the 21st century.
“We want to become the world’s best regional port and create an iconic waterfront district for Belfast which will be an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest in. This will bring huge benefits for our customers, the regional economy and all our citizens. We can’t deliver our ambitious plans by ourselves which is why a partnership approach is a key part of our strategy. If Northern Ireland is going to be competitive on the global stage then we need to work together, collaborate more and invest in key infrastructure.
“Over the next 5 years, Belfast Harbour intends to invest £254 million in new Port and estate infrastructure and facilities. This major investment programme is really only possible because of our Trust Port status which allows us to reinvest every penny of our net earnings back into the business.”
A number of real estate projects will also be completed, including City Quays 4, a 250-apartment build-to-rent development; Pierpont Plaza, a five-storey office facility at Catalyst Inc; additional new film studios and a media hub at Giant’s Park and new public realm space.
Over the longer term, the ambition is to significantly enhance the Port’s capacity to attract new trade and manage the next generation of shipping by deepening the Victoria Channel and developing new quays and wharves. Belfast Harbour also wants to create an iconic waterfront district with attractive public spaces that are integrated into the rest of the city. This will potentially include new cross-harbour bridges, a water taxi service and opportunities for new tourism, leisure and cultural projects.
These plans are among the most ambitious to be put forward in the Port’s history, but the challenges and opportunities of the future demand a new approach.