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Belfast footbridge plan still being pushed despite £7m funding shortfall

By John Mulgrew

Published 15/02/2016

The design chosen for the proposed Gasworks Bridge
The design chosen for the proposed Gasworks Bridge

Stormont is continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds over plans for a £7m footbridge in Belfast despite not having final funding for the project, it can be revealed.

Proposals for the span over the Lagan were thrown into doubt last year after the Belfast Telegraph revealed deadlock over the Stormont budget meant cash was unlikely to be found for the construction.

The bridge project, which is being led by the Department for Regional Development, is going before Belfast City Council's planning committee, and is expected to get the green light.

But just £600,000 has been ring-fenced by DRD to take the project "through the statutory procedures".

The bulk of the money needed to finance the bridge is still up in the air, and a contractor has not been appointed.

A spokesman for DRD confirmed cash had not been found for the project.

"As yet capital funding has not been secured to progress and consequently the timescales for appointing a contractor cannot be established," he said.

"As with all major schemes of this type, development depends on the availability of funding."

The 141-metre long pedestrian and cycle bridge will link the Gasworks with the opposite bank of the river.

The project has been heavily criticised by Ukip MLA David McNarry.

Mr McNarry, a member of Stormont's regional development committee, said: "This is a white elephant and they have wasted so much money to get it to the various stages.

"There are so many other things that this department can spend money on, capital money."

Plans for the bridge were unveiled in 2014, and a series proposals were put out for public consultation.

Last year one of 10 blueprints was selected to be put forward as the final design.

At the time Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said it would result in an eye-catching construction.

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