Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Harbour investment drive to create 10,500 jobs and boost economy

Belfast Harbour is to invest £254m over five years
Belfast Harbour is to invest £254m over five years

By Lisa Smyth

Belfast Harbour will invest £254m in new infrastructure, which will help generate 10,500 new jobs, according to a newly released plan.

Approximately 7,000 jobs will be created in harbour developments, with a further 3,500 in construction work.

Ulster University estimated the ambitious improvement programme would deliver a £500m boost for the local economy, with an additional £300m in wages and £4m in rates each year.

The proposals were unveiled at Belfast Harbour's annual stakeholders' meeting in the city yesterday, with the organisation revealing an ambition to become the best regional port in the world.

It also wants to create a thriving residential, business and tourism waterfront for Belfast.

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.

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"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 in, 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, we need to work together, collaborate more and invest in key infrastructure.

"Over the next five years, Belfast Harbour intends to invest £254m in new 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."

Over the next few years, a number of real estate projects will also be completed.

These include City Quays 4, a 250-apartment build-to-rent development; Pierpont Plaza, a five-storey office facility at Catalyst Inc; additional new film studios; a media hub at Giant's Park; and a new public-realm space.

Over the longer term, the ambition is 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 a waterfront district that can be integrated with the rest of the city. It will potentially include new cross-harbour bridges, a water taxi service and opportunities for tourism, leisure and cultural projects.

Joe O'Neill, Belfast Harbour's CEO, said: "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."

Belfast Telegraph