Plans to build a ‘Smart City Centre’ into a £380 million regeneration project in Belfast have emerged.
The Weaver’s Cross regeneration site was approved by Belfast City Council last year and spans more than 1.3 million sq ft of Northern Ireland’s capital city.
Translink, a public transport company comprising NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro, is bringing Belfast Grand Central Station, a multi-million-pound publicly funded transport hub ‘for bus, rail and active travel and a gateway to all major airports’ that will cater for 20 million passenger journeys annually.
- GRAHAM (engineering)
- Farrans Sacyr JV (main construction)
Translink group chief executive, Chris Conway, said Weaver’s Cross will have a 20-year development cycle, support the local construction sector and its supply chain, and could mean “at least £1billion in economic output and spend in the economy”.
Other features of the Weaver’s Cross project include:
- Saltwater Square: a “significant public realm commitment”
- Mixed-use development: offices (up to 8,000 workspaces) and residential “for up to 1,000 people”
- A new hotel
- Retail and leisure
Belfast City Council described it as a ‘transport led regeneration project linking a new high-capacity transport hub with mixed-use development opportunities’.
Global commercial property investor CBRE is also said to be involved.
Building on Weaver’s Cross, the new Smart District will have a national Net Zero Mobility Hub and a Health Innovation Hub, supported by universities, reported Business Live.
The aim is to foster digital innovation collaboration between SMEs, government and academia.
Core digital and data infrastructure
- £30 million for advanced wireless connectivity
- £54 million funding for innovation (£34 million from Societal Impact Fund and £20 million from Digital Innovation Venture Fund via Belfast Region City Deal)
- £5 million shared urban data platform
“Smart Belfast is about encouraging these partners to work together to harness the power of digital technologies to develop policy solutions to urban challenges,” a council report states.
These include climate change, sustainable mobility, the future of the high street and healthy urban neighbourhoods.
Both schemes are made possible by the closure of the existing Europa Bus Station and Great Victoria Street train station.
“The Smart District provides a unique opportunity for companies to design, develop, test and deploy innovative urban services and new technologies in a supportive real-world environment; a testbed offering an ‘urban sandbox’ that reduces the complex barriers to in-situ innovation and accelerates the development and adoption of digital and data-driven technologies,” said Belfast City Council.
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