The vision and history

Twelve years ago leaders in the East Belfast community, principle among them Sammy Douglas, then Chair of East Belfast Partnership, had a vision of a walking/cycle/nature way that would link some of the public parks of East Belfast by following the watercourse of the Connswater and Loop Rivers from the Cregagh Glen down to the Connswater’s entry to Belfast Lough.

When Belfast was an industrial giant and global leader in rope manufacturing and ship building, the rivers served as canal routes for manufactured products to be transported from factory to export ships berthed in the Lough and it was important that the walk/cycle/nature way traced that proud industrial heritage.

Areas of the rivers had also become infamous through song or book, for example, Van Morrison, a native of east Belfast sang about the area known as the Hollow in ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and CS Lewis describes the area in the Chronicles of Narnia. The project became known as the Connswater Community Greenway.

The brief

AECOM of Belfast were appointed for phase 1 design and they were seeking a robust modular material for the Public Park areas of the Greenway and selected a 3-colour Kellen Lavaro blend of Wit, Grijs and Rood, a range which carries outstanding sustainable credentials. The Lavaro range is made from 70% water-etched aggregate in the fascia with certified recycled building materials in the backing layer. The material carries the EU Eco Label (Milieukeur) and if used delivers a BREEAM A+ or AA rating. Hardscape provided technical advice to AECOM and then supplied BSG Civil Engineering with materials.

Landscape architects’ The Paul Hogarth Company of Belfast were appointed for phase 2 design and given the topography of the route combined with the need for large shared public space areas respectful of nature, Anthony McGuigan as landscape architect selected various natural stones as pavers, setts, walling and kerbs throughout the magical 9km course of the Greenway for the design palette. One of the highlights of the Greenway is the public space named after the Chronicles of Narnia creator CS Lewis, featuring seven bronze sculptures from The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe such as; Aslan, The White Witch, Tumnus, The Beavers, The Robin and The Stone Table which generate a stunning display of public art at CS Lewis Square.

Materials used

Hardscape technically advised The Paul Hogarth Company on materials and supplied building and civil engineering contractors Farrans with Tower sandstone, Kobra granite and Artscape elements highlighting the ‘Greenway’ in lettering in the kerbs and these can be best seen in situ at CS Lewis Square though our natural stone materials are in various module guises which are laid along the full 9km length of the project.

The end result

The Connswater Greenway received a £23.5million from the Big Lottery Fund Living Landmark Programme, the largest award Big Lottery Fund has ever made in Northern Ireland. Funding also came from Belfast City Council, the Department of Infrastructure and the Department for Communities of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Greenway completed in April 2017 opening in full to the public. It’s been an incredible ten year journey and Hardscape have been privileged to be amongst the stakeholders involved in the creation of this magical linear park which is connecting people and places, regenerating and revitalising the area, making east Belfast a better place for people to live, work, visit and invest.

CS Lewis Square is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and fully lit. Free trail maps can be found in the Eastside Visitor Centre, The Arches Health & Wellbeing Centre, Connswater Community Centre and Holywood Arches Library.