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Belfast City Council wants to open up Lanyon Tunnels - and you can decide how they're used

By Claire Cromie

Published 08/02/2016

The eight derelict Lanyon Tunnels are below Belfast's East Bridge Street, beside Central Station
The eight derelict Lanyon Tunnels are below Belfast's East Bridge Street, beside Central Station

A network of derelict railway tunnels in Belfast could be brought back to life.

The eight disused railway arches - known as the Lanyon Tunnels - connect the Markets area with Belfast Central Station, St George’s Market and Lanyon Place.

They sit just below East Bridge Street and were originally used by traders as holding pens for cattle on their way to the slaughterhouse in nearby Stewart Street.

But they have not been used for over 70 years.

Now Belfast City Council has secured planning permission to refurbish the tunnels for potential commercial development.

And it's asking for your creative ideas and plans for what to do with them.

They could become shops, cafes, bars or perhaps artist's studios in the style of Brighton's famous arches.

An artist’s impression shows how the Lanyon Tunnels could look following refurbishment and fit out, mocked up as an art gallery.

Community groups, companies and retailers are being urged to submit ideas if they are interested in taking up space within the tunnels.

An initial expression of interest process is now underway for potential units within the site, with ideas invited by Wednesday 17 February.

An artist's impression of how the Lanyon Tunnels could look following refurbishment and fit out
An artist's impression of how the Lanyon Tunnels could look following refurbishment and fit out

“These tunnels are right at the heart of two of the city’s biggest redevelopment projects - the expansion of Belfast Waterfront and the addition of Grade A office space on the former Maysfield Leisure Centre site,” said Councillor Declan Boyle, Chair of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.

“Their refurbishment could improve access within this key area, as well as connecting the local community to the many opportunities being created right on their doorstep.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to help turn a derelict and neglected space into something innovative, as well as potentially bringing new jobs and other benefits to the city centre.”

Funding is being sought to undertake the refurbishment work needed to open up the tunnels, and make them suitable for potential retail, light industrial, office or leisure use.

Following refurbishment, it is anticipated that units will then be made available to prospective tenants on a lease or licence basis.

To express an interest, or to request an information pack, call 028 9032 0202 (extension 3515) or visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/regeneration

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