Orangefield Park is being transformed with the diversion of the Knock River along a new channel. The River, which flowed along the edge of the park, adjacent to many properties which have been affected by flooding in the past, is now diverted into the heart of the park as a key component of the flood alleviation element of an integrated project under way in the area.
One of 3 ‘Living Landmark’ projects in the UK, the £35 million Connswater Community Greenway / East Belfast Flood Alleviation Scheme (CCG/EBFAS) Project is being developed by the East Belfast Partnership and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council, the Department for Social Development and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rivers Agency.
Work in the park began last May 2013, with 40,000 tonnes of soil being moved to create the new river channel and naturalised flood plain. The permanent diversion of the river, along with other flood defences, means that there will soon be a high level of flood protection for the properties situated adjacent to the river, including Orangefield Park, Orangefield Green and Sandhill Park.
Residents and park users will have already noticed considerable changes to Orangefield Park with the addition of new bridges and its extension to Clarawood. The new river channel will become a naturalised habitat relatively quickly, supporting local wildlife and providing a valuable outdoor classroom facility for local schools and groups.
Wendy Langham, Programme Manager of the Connswater Community Greenway said, “Moving the Knock River supports the environment and greatly enhances the park, whilst also addressing major flooding problems in this area. This is a major step forward in the development of Connswater Community Greenway Project, coupled with the recent works in Victoria Park, including the installation of the landmark Sam Thompson Bridge. We are literally building bridges and moving rivers – connecting people and places in east Belfast and beyond.”
Rivers Agency’s Director of Engineering, Pat Aldridge added: “This solution to flooding is an excellent example of how to work with natural river processes, support a healthy river ecosystem and enhance the social and recreational facilities in an area that was at high flood risk. I am confident that this latest development will go a long way towards alleviating the anxiety experienced by residents, businesses and property owners who have experienced repeated flooding in the past.”
Phase 1 of the Connswater Community Greenway Project has focused on Orangefield and Victoria Parks, with work scheduled to be completed Spring 2014. Phase 2 will begin in Summer 2014, with completion of the project expected in early 2016.
To find out more on the Connswater Community Greenway/ East Belfast Flood Alleviation Scheme and to follow the construction progress, visit the project website www.communitygreenway.co.uk.