Lagan Footbridge, Belfast


Construction scheme (future)
To construct a combined foot and cycle bridge across the River Lagan from the Gasworks site (near Cromac Street) to Ormeau Embankment.
Total Length
Bridge length approx 150m

1969 - Road bridge proposed at this location

1987 - Laganside Corporation proposes a footbridge at the location
2004 - Doran’s Gasworks Footbridge Feasibility Report published

Jun 2013 - DRD announces a new feasibility study
Jan 2014 - Public exhibition of nine options
17 Apr 2014 - Feasibility report selects three options for further study

7 Jan 2015 - Preferred option announced

28 & 29 Jan 2015 - Public exhibition of preferred option

28 May 2015 - Planning application submitted

15 Apr 2016 - Planning permission granted

During 2023 - To go out to tender (as of Aug 2023; changed from Mar 2021 as of Dec 2020; Sep 2020 as of Dec 2019; Nov 2015 as of Sep 2015; itself changed from Sep 2015 as of Jul 2015)
During 2024 - Construction to begin (as of Aug 2023)
Construction to take 24 months (as of Aug 2023) so completion by end of 2026

£12.9m (as of Dec 2020) – changed from £7–9m as of Jan 2015, and £5.4m – £9.6m as of Apr 2014)
£12.1m to be funded from the Belfast Region City Deal
See Also

General area map - Google Maps

Official page on scheme - DFI
Peace Bridge, Derry - on this site (similar structure)
More background - NI Greenways' Blog

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

The idea of building a bridge over the Lagan from the former Gasworks site off Cromac Street, Belfast to Ormeau Embankment is not a new one. A major road bridge was proposed for the route in the 1969 "Belfast Transportation Plan". A less ambitious road bridge sited a little to the north survived in the scaled-back 1978 "Review of Transportation Strategy". This scheme even remained in the 1990 "Belfast Urban Area Plan 2001", albeit marked as "subject to review". None of these road bridges ever materialised, but the former road protection corridor on the west bank remains undeveloped at the time of writing (Jan 2015). In 1987 the group that would become Laganside Corporation proposed a footbridge on the route in their initial masterplan, and in 2004 they carried out a feasibility study and the scheme is mentioned as a possibility in the 2004 Belfast Metropolitan Transportation Plan. In 2005 Steven Patterson from sustainable transport charity Sustrans asked Belfast City Council to support the scheme and after 2007, when Laganside was wound up, Belfast City Council became one of the movers of the scheme along with Sustrans and the Department for Social Development. The current process began in June 2013 when the Minister for Regional Development (Danny Kennedy) announced a new feasibility study as part his wider scaling-up of the DRD's support for sustainable transport (eg the establishment of a "Cycling Unit" in autumn 2013).

A public exhibition of nine preliminary options was held in January 2014, and in response to this two further options were developed (3A and 10). Three options (3A, 6 and 10) were taken forward for further consideration in the Feasibility report which was published in April 2014. These three options are shown further down this page under "Development of Options". They varied in cost from £5.4m to £9.6m. In January 2015 Option 3A was selected as the preferred design. This would have meant a 140 metre long bridge with two angled pylons built close to the banks and a cable-stayed deck. By 2023 the design had evolved further, and now consists of two vertical, triangular pylons positioned further into the river with a cable-stayed deck. The map below shows the route of the bridge in red, and the image below that shows an image of how it could look:

2023 design with two vertical pylons
                          and cable stays
Lagan Footbridge design, as of August 2023 [DFI Roads]

The chosen option will require the removal of the existing "red bridge" on the west bank (which no longer serves a useful purpose anyway as the River Blackstaff is culverted today). It will have a deck 5.0 metres wide and will carry two "lanes" - a footway, and a separate cycleway. At the eastern end there will be a Toucan crossing on Ormeau Embankment and (presumably) a cycleway connecting that to the rest of Ormeau Park to the east. The total length is 141 metres and the steel pylons will be 40 metres tall. This makes it higher but shorter and cheaper than the Peace Bridge in Derry which also carries pedestrians and cyclists.

According to the DRD's 2014 Feasibility Report, the purpose of the bridge is fourfold:

  • to improve access to facilities on both sides of the river for local communities,
  • help encourage more sustainable commuting,
  • bring the ‘green’ area of Ormeau Park within convenient walking distance of the city centre and
  • provide a new link across the River Lagan.

Why is this bridge on the Northern Ireland Roads Site? I don't normally list footbridges on this web site. I have decided to include the Lagan Footbridge because (a) it is such a high-profile and particularly iconic structure and (b) because of its significant scale and cost.

Development of Options

The three options selected in April 2014 for further study were:

  • Option 3A (a variant on Option 3 shown at the exhibition) - a twin pylon cable stayed bridge at a cost of £5.8m.
  • Option 6 - a curved twin-span inclined bowstring arch at a cost of £5.4m.
  • Option 10 (a development of Option 3 shown at the exhibition) - a twin pylon cable stayed bridge extending into Ormeau Park at a cost of £9.6m.
Artist's impressions of the three options are shown below (with Ormeau Embankment to the bottom/right in each case) (all three are DRD TransportNI images). Option 3A was taken forward as the preferred option.

3A >> Lagan Footbridge
                          Option 3A  6 >> Lagan Footbridge
                          Option 6

10 >> Lagan Footbridge
                          Option 10


18 Aug 2023: DFI Roads this week released a document showing how the current roads programme will be prioritised in the current economic and legislative climate, where DFI is now required to de-carbonise transport. This scheme made the cut, mainly because it already has funding but also because, since 2022, DFI is now required by law to spend 10% of its budget on active travel (walking and cycling). The ISNI web site claims that the bridge is already out to tender, though I can't see it on eTendersNI, and DFI confirmed in their new document that a contractor is expected to be appointed during 2024 (ISNI says by March 2024). Construction would be likely to get underway very quickly after the tender award, so with this timetable we would see work begin before the end of 2024 and, with an approximate 24 month construction period (previously estimated to be 18 months), that would see the bridge open by the end of 2026. The only question is on cost. The cost of £12.9m in 2020 prices, so is likely to have risen since then. The Belfast Region City Deal has provided £12.1m so there could be a funding shortfall of £1-2m. This level of funding could probably be covered by DFI, but would need addressed. Finally, DFI released an image of the current design (at the top of this page) which is notably different from the design being floated in 2015, prior to detailed design work. The 2015 design (which is still the one shown on the DFI web site) was a cable-stayed bridge with two triangular pylons positioned close to the banks and angled inland to cope with the majority of weight being taken on the river side of each pylon. The new design shows the two pylons located further into the river and arranged vertically, with more equal weight being taken on each side. This change was likely informed by site investigation works and the realities of the location.

29 Jun 2022: In the past 6 months the schedule for construction of this project has been put back by... 9 months, at least according to the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland web site which is all we have to go on. The project is now listed as being constructed between September 2023 and June 2025. The information on the ISNI web site does not seem to reflect reality and is therefore of limited usefulness. The only hope is that this scheme is to be funded from the Belfast City Deal. So the funding itself seems secure, it is just the timing of the release of the funding that is still uncertain.

16 Jan 2022: In my last update 13 months ago I commented that DFI had split the project into 2 phases, likely to prevent planning permission from expiring, and phase 1 (construction of a toucan crossing) did indeed take place during 2021, meaning that work on the project has "commenced", and thus planning permission will not expire. Nothing else has happened. However, the Belfast Region City Deal was signed on 17 December 2021. This is significant because this is the source of the funding for the Lagan footbridge. While the timescale for the actual release of the funds is still unclear, the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland web site (which admittedly is quite whimsical) anticipates the project going out to tender during 2022 with construction to take place between December 2022 and September 2024, a period of 21 months. This timescale does seem plausible to me, but we would need to see a tender released early in 2022 to achieve it.

30 Dec 2020: DFI Roads recently set out their priorities and bids for capital funding for the 2021-22 financial year. This list includes the Lagan Footbridge listed as "pre-committed" (and curiously called "Ormeau Park Pedestrian Bridge") with a total bid of £7.268m. This is marked as "City Deal" money. The cost of the scheme has risen significantly since a price of £7-9m was last quoted in 2015. The Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland web site now lists the construction contract as £12-15m (which would not include planning costs). It's not clear why the cost has gone up so significantly, but this is quite a common occurrence as infrastructure projects are developed. However this does not seem to be a problem as DFI recently stated that "Lagan Bridge is fully developed", and that "Interim Business Cases were submitted to BCRD [City Deal] partners in August 2020 to help inform prioritisation of BCRD projects and allocation of funding. Delivery... will be dependent on the outcome of this prioritisation exercise and the availability of funding". So that suggests that, even though we know the scheme has got funding in principle, the timeframe is still unclear as it depends what the BCRD partners decide to prioritise. The ISNI web site, for what it's worth, is anticipating that the project will go out to tender in March 2021, with a contractor to be appointed by June 2021 and work to begin straight away and last 18 months. The most pressing issue is that planning permission for the scheme expires on 15 April 2021, so to avoid that happening some work would need to take place by then. This may be the reason for an application made by DFI back in July (and granted two weeks ago on 18 December 2020) to build the project in two phases. Phase 1 would be construction of a toucan crossing on Ormeau Embankment and phase 2 being the bridge. This phasing would allow DFI to build the toucan crossing themselves before 15 April, thus "commencing" the project, and hence planning permission would not expire.

27 Feb 2020: With Stormont now restored, this scheme may finally be on the move again as it means that the Belfast City Region Deal (which is providing funding for this scheme) can also be progressed. The new Infrastructure Minister was asked about the scheme in a Written Answer earlier this month and she said "Outline Business Cases for all projects are to be submitted by spring 2020 to allow Belfast Region City Deal partners to consider priorities and funding. The approval to proceed with the Lagan Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge and the budget to deliver it will also be subject to Executive approval." So that suggests that active work towards construction is once again underway. The Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland is still listing the scheme as to go out to tender by September 2020 which now seems plausible. If that happened, then work could get underway in the second half of 2021 (though they'd need to do something before that as planning permission will otherwise expire in February 2021).

7 Jan 2020: Having languished for over four years now with no clear construction timeframe, the bridge is listed again on the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland web site. This lists the tender as to be released by September 2020, with construction to take place between June 2021 and March 2022 (this is probably wrong, since nine months would be very impressive for a project of this scale). I would caution that ISNI dates are notoriously unreliable - DFI seem to just bump them on by six months every so often - but it does at least show that it is on the agenda again. One to watch. Note also that planning permission expires in February next year (2021), so some work would need to take place before then if it is not to lapse.

1 May 2016: Sometime during the past week the scheme has now been quietly removed from the DRD's list of "future tenders", having sat for about six months with the date saying "to be confirmed". As I said in the previous update below, the scheme did not get a funding allocation and I suspect this was not anticipated by the scheme's planners. The fact that it has been removed entirely from the future tenders list suggests that there is now little hope of it being put out to tender in the near future. So another case of "watch this space". I have therefore moved this scheme back out of the list of "schemes likely get underway within 12 months" and back into "schemes in planning", as it now seems unlikely to get underway in the near future.

2 Mar 2016: A mixture of good and bad news about this scheme over the past few weeks. The good news is that the bridge was granted planning permission by Belfast City Council on 16 February (though oddly it doesn't report this on the Planning Portal web site). nigreenways offers some more detailed analysis of this planning meeting over on In October last year I noted that the plan to put the scheme out to tender in autumn 2015 mysteriously disappeared off the DRD web site in October 2015 and the date for this has now been given as "to be confirmed" for five months. So the bad news is that we now know why - the scheme has not been given a funding allocation (or rather, the £600,000 it has been given will only cover the design and legal costs). The Belfast Telegraph reports that the money need to actually build it has not been allocated. A DRD spokesperson is quoted as saying "As yet capital funding has not been secured to progress and consequently the timescales for appointing a contractor cannot be established". While this is true for all transport schemes, the fact that a timescale *did* appear on the DRD web site until October suggests that this situation was unexpected to the scheme's sponsors. So at the minute we really can't say much more - the scheme will basically now be parked until such times as funding is allocated. This is unfortunate given its merits and that its construction cost (£8m) is an almost inconsequential sum when compared to schemes like York Street Interchange (£125-165m) or the A6 dualling scheme at Toome (£120-140m).

29 Oct 2015: Something strange has happened to the timescale of this scheme, but I have not been able to ascertain what. Construction of the bridge had been due to go out to tender in September, and then this was pushed back to November. The DRD has now published their most recent procurement plan, and it lists this scheme but the timescale is now given as "To Be Confirmed", and no date of tender release is now listed on the DRD web site. I don't know why the timescale is suddenly so vague, but the vagueness suggests some complication has arisen for which a timescale is hard to estimate. The procurement plan gives the construction cost as £7.9m (though note that this is not the total project cost, which also includes planning and land acquisition) and a duration of 17 months.

14 Sep 2015: In July (see previous update below) the DRD web site was anticipating that the construction tender would be released in September 2015. This seems to have now been pushed back to November 2015. Planning permission (planning ref LA04/2015/0405/F) has still not been granted, though as previously noted a construction tender can still be released ahead of this, on the understanding that actual work can't take place until approval is granted. If the tender was released in November, then we could see a contractor appointed perhaps in the spring or summer of 2016 - assuming that the money is available at that time. Assuming a construction period of two years (and it may not take that long) the bridge could be in place and open by mid 2018, which is still in line with my prediction in January (see below).

5 Jul 2015: The DRD submitted their planning application on 28 May 2015 (planning ref LA04/2015/0405/F), following "pre-application" discussions which have been taking place for some months, and which are designed to avoid any obvious problems being included in the planning application. Because of the recent (from April) transfer of planning powers to the local councils, this application will be decided by Belfast City Council. Meanwhile, the DRD web site is saying that the scheme could go out to tender in September this year with an estimated construction cost of approximately £8m. Note that this is the cost of construction only - the overall project cost also includes design costs and land acquisition. It seems that this project is a high priority within the DRD as it is being progressed very rapidly compared to other transport schemes. While planning permission may not have been granted by September, this would not stop the project going out to tender. Appointing a contractor typically takes up to 9 months, so this process could be ongoing while the scheme navigates the planning process.

28 Jan 2015: A public exhibition was held today in Shaftesbury Recreation Centre, and another one will be held tomorrow (Thursday 29 January) in the Ozone Complex in Ormeau Park from 11am-7pm. I do not know what exactly is on display, but it is likely to be further information about the preferred option which was announced on 7 January. Meanwhile, the more detailed Stage 2 documentation is now on the DRD web site here, which includes detailed blueprints of the various proposed structures. There is enough there to keep civil engineering junkies occupied for some time!

11 Jan 2015: On 7 January the DRD Minister announced that of the three designs carried forward for further consideration, Option 3A - the twin pylon cable-stayed bridge - has been selected. The cost given (a rather vague £7-9m) is a good bit higher than the estimate of £5.8m for this design that was given in the April 2014 feasibility study. But to be fair, the feasibiltiy study did explicitly warn that it was very difficult to estimate the cost of schemes like this without the further work that has now taken place. Some will be disappointed that the design selected does not extend across Ormeau Embankment into Ormeau Park (as in Option 10). Nevertheless, the Minister has said that there will be a further public exhibition in early 2015 (although no details have yet been publicised) and possibly a planning application could go in later in 2015. The feasibility study estimates that, with a fair wind, the scheme could be constructed within 30 months of the decision to proceed. If, for the sake of argument, such a decision was made at the end of 2015 the bridge could be completed by mid 2018. This, of course, depends on funding. Initial looks at the Stormont House Agreement made around Christmas 2014 makes any capital investment in the next few years look very shakey indeed. But we should know more about Stormont's finances going forward by the end of January.