News 22.11.2021

Plans unveiled for City Quays Gardens, a transformational urban garden in Belfast's historic harbour by Gillespies

Plans for a vibrant green urban garden designed by Gillespies have been revealed by Belfast Harbour Commissioners (BHC) at City Quays as part of the multi-million-pound regeneration of the former docklands into a landmark mixed-use quarter on Belfast's iconic waterfront.

Won through a design competition run by BHC, Gillespies' transformational proposals for City Quays Gardens will bring new life, activity and animation to the historic Lagan waterfront. The ambitious scheme will contribute to Belfast's net-zero carbon ambitions with sustainability, biodiversity and health and wellbeing at its core.

City Quays Gardens will transform a former car park adjacent to the listed Belfast Harbour offices into a series of richly landscaped interlinked public spaces, respectful of the area's maritime heritage and world-class in their ambition. The 2-acre green space will offer attractive green spaces where people can meet, socialise, work, participate in events, or just sit and relax within beautiful surroundings. The proposals include a series of connected urban parks with new active uses supporting surrounding commercial uses and the surrounding communities.

Works include significant urban greening, an enhanced water's edge, and various events spaces and leisure destinations to complement the Maritime Mile and wider Belfast Harbour events programme.

City Quays Gardens has sustainability at its heart and is a flagship green project for the Harbour. The scheme aims to achieve the 'One Planet Living' environmental accreditation, with Phase One delivering net-zero power and water usage through solar power and greywater irrigation. Locally quarried materials, Sustainable Urban Drainage and diverse ecological planting, will all help the scheme meet the highest sustainability standard. The project will promote active and sustainable travel, connecting the City Quays waterfront and Belfast city centre through a hierarchy of improved pedestrian and cycle links.

City Quays Gardens at night by Gillespies

With AECOM as project manager, Gillespies is leading the design team, responsible for masterplanning, landscape and public realm design, supported by a group of specialist expert designers. These include lighting designers Studio Factual and a range of Belfast-based consultancies, including RPS, Turley, Doran, Consarc, W H Stephens and Semple McKillop.

Jim Gibson, Partner at Gillespies, commented:

"The landscape team at Gillespies are thrilled to be delivering this world-class vision for the landscape-led regeneration of the City Quays development. The ambitions of Belfast Harbour and their commitment to the City are manifest in all their activities. We are clear about the importance they place in this project and the responsibility placed on Gillespies to successfully unlock the further potential of City Quays. Our proposals will sensitively transform this historic part of the City and bring new uses for heritage assets to create a new city destination and re-energised waterfront. The Covid 19 pandemic means that we are entering a new era where our relationship with our open spaces and buildings is changing - potentially forever. At the root of our proposals is a desire to use external spaces as a means to reconnect us with one another and the natural environment, restoring vitality, synergy and joy in the places we share."

Graeme Johnson, Property and Place Director, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, added:

"Gillespies' place-making expertise was clear in their winning design entry for City Quays Gardens, and we are delighted to collaborate with an award-winning team as we work to develop an innovative green, urban space for Belfast.

Working in partnership, we will deliver on plans to create a space that blends the rich industrial and maritime heritage of the area with an innovative and sustainable design.

Our exciting plans for City Quays Gardens align with our strategy to develop an iconic waterfront for Belfast and will further strengthen City Quays' connectivity as an integrated district of the City."

Subject to successful planning consent, the scheme is programmed to commence on site in 2022.