Bid to turn George Best housing estate into Belfast tourist attraction
The humble housing estate where George Best grew up could be transformed into a tourism mecca thanks to new designs drawn up by residents and the Connswater Community Greenway project.
The Belfast Telegraph has obtained a preview of the plans that are set to revamp the Cregagh estate in east Belfast into a stop-off for tourists.
If the plans get the green light visitors could be welcomed into the area where the ‘Belfast Boy’ kicked his first football by a lifelike statue of the former Manchester United hero leaning along a new stone entrance wall.
Integral to the makeover is the inclusion of a pathway leading off the multi-million revamped greenway into the estate, which those backing the scheme hope will bring people into the area to see what it has to offer.
Members of the Cregagh Community Association, along with the Connswater Community Greenway, have been working behind the scenes to make the plans a reality and are hopeful Cregagh residents and Castlereagh Council will approve the project.
Cregagh Community Association spokesman Tommy Sandford said the mini-makeover will give a welcome boost to the area.
He said: “This is a good thing. It will bring more people into the area, increase its culture value and make it more attractive, with more passing trade for the shops. There still has to be further discussions with Cregagh residents but I think they’ll get behind it.”
Sean Branningan, community engineering officer of the Connswater Community Greenway project, said the pathway and community arts ideas stemmed from Cregagh residents who see an opportunity to be involved in the £42 million overall investment.
He said: “This has come about directly from the community who have asked for the pathway to be extended into Cregagh. They recognise there are opportunities available and are wanting to improve their area.
“It has been a result of community consultation and we are hopeful it will go ahead.”
He added: “The money is there and we would like to include some community art and a George Best statue.
“The creating of a new path coming off the Cregagh Road with a new stone entrance with a welcome sign into the area will bring people in to see where George kicked his first football, the house where he grew-up, and his mural.”