Best of the East (Eastside Visitors Centre)

SIF provided funding of over £186,000 for the development and construction of the ‘Best of the East’ Visitors Centre - a multi-functional, three story building incorporating a visitor and reception point, a café, a shop, toilets, exhibition space and meeting facilities. It now supports promotion of services and tourism in Eastside.

Project Name:

Best of the East (Eastside Visitors Centre)

Zone:

Belfast East

Category:

Capital

Social Investment Fund Outcome:

Increasing Community Services/Addressing Dereliction

Status:

Operational – Construction Complete

Funding awarded:

£186,700

Eastside Visitor Centre - Before
Eastside Visitor Centre - Before

Eastside Visitor Centre - After
Eastside Visitor Centre - After

About the Project

The project was centred on the establishment of a unique and innovative tourism hub and central orientation point for the East Belfast tourism product, located at CS Lewis Square. The new centre replaced a derelict building on a site in a prominent location in the Inner East. Best of the East was the working title and on completion the building is now formally named “Eastside Visitors Centre”.

The centre was designed to be the epicentre of the tourism products and visitor experiences of East Belfast, based on the following key product areas – CS Lewis; George Best; Greenways (Comber and Connswater); Titanic People/Yardsmen; Van Morrison; Murals & Public Art; and Historic Churches/ Built Heritage. The centre is the launch/orientation point for tailored trails around East Belfast for each of the eight product areas and also provides exhibition, story-telling and celebration of the people of East Belfast and their associated achievements enabled through an annual events programme.  It has also connected with visitor experiences at Titanic Quarter and Stormont and has provided signposting to the associated visitor services in the east of the city such as events, accommodation, eateries and shopping.

Progress to date

This project has completed construction and is operational. Since its official opening in 2016, the EastSide Visitor Centre has been used as the festival hub for both the EastSide Arts Festival and the widely acclaimed C.S. Lewis Festival amongst other events. The centre is also the home of Globe Café, an initiative whereby people from an international background who are currently living in east Belfast can meet up and socialise. This has been a successful SIF project delivering a new facility to the East Belfast zone, boosting the local economy by creating new jobs and using local suppliers. In addition, the facility encourages healthy living and promotes culture and arts to all visitors. This project has also strengthened the heritage infrastructure in East Belfast, serving as a visitor gateway to the East of the city within close proximity to a number of other SIF capital regeneration projects boosting the benefits to everyone in this area.   The project has also resulted in aesthetic improvements to the character of the square and environs within East Belfast.

Impacts

Monitoring and evaluation of all Social Investment Fund projects is carried out using “Outcomes Based Accountability” (OBA). Where SIF has funded capital works, the project provides quarterly “post-capital” data for a period of 3 years which details the positive impacts enabled by the capital works undertaken. The Best of the East project has completed its 3 years of post-capital monitoring. Below are the final capital and post capital infographics which highlight the key impacts of the project.

Final Capital infographic
Final Capital infographic

 

Final post construction infographic
Final post construction infographic

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