Work begins on £2.9m shared space project in South Belfast

Date published: 26 April 2024

Junior Ministers Aisling Reilly and Pam Cameron have visited an ambitious £2.9 million redevelopment project aimed at improving community relations in South Belfast.

Image with four people - Gerard Rice, Director of Services, LORAG; Junior Minister Pam Cameron; Junior Minister Aisling Reilly; and John Gormley, Chairperson, LORAG, mark the start of work on the Lockhouse redevelopment project.
Gerard Rice, Director of Services, LORAG; Junior Minister Pam Cameron; Junior Minister Aisling Reilly; and John Gormley, Chairperson, LORAG.

Once completed, the former Lockhouse will be reimagined into a vibrant community café, training and exhibition and good relations space situated along the Lagan Towpath.

The transformation will complement the work being delivered through the community garden and men’s shed, which were officially opened yesterday.

Speaking at the site visit to mark the official start of work on the project, Junior Minister Reilly said:

“It has been so inspiring to hear about the incredible work being carried out by Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group (LORAG) to create vibrant and welcoming spaces for people of all backgrounds to come together.  I am delighted that the Urban Villages Initiative is playing a key part in that work through the redevelopment of the former Lockhouse.

“This redevelopment has already transformed an unused green space into a community area for outdoor recreation and education.

“I have no doubt this will be a great asset for the whole community in this part of South Belfast, and I look forward to returning to see the completed project in 2025.”

Junior Minister Pam Cameron said:

“I am delighted that we are able to support this important development through the Urban Villages Initiative. The new extended Lockhouse will be a vibrant social space for the wider local community.

“This Healthy Living Community Hub will be a valuable new resource for the area and will enable the Group to provide much-needed community space where organisations can meet and host a wide range of community initiatives and events.

“The redeveloped Lockhouse will be an extension of the work already being carried out by the Group, which for over 30 years has supported the residents and community of the Lower Ormeau area of South Belfast.” 

A spokesperson for Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group said:

“LORAG welcomes the start of this exciting new development of a Healthy Living Hub within the Lower Ormeau. We thank those funders who have embraced our vision to improve health and wellbeing of the local community.

 “The development will offer access to a fabulous building encompassing the old Lockhouse, transforming the house into a beautiful riverside café, fabulous conference room, alongside two multi-purpose spaces with access to the community garden and shed with panoramic views of the River Lagan and the Belfast Old Industrial skyline.”

Funding for the project has been through a collaborative partnership between The Executive Office, Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure and Belfast City Council, with funding of £1.8m, £750k, £350k and £49.8k allocated respectively.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption: Gerard Rice, Director of Services, LORAG; Junior Minister Pam Cameron; Junior Minister Aisling Reilly; and John Gormley, Chairperson, LORAG, mark the start of work on the Lockhouse redevelopment project.
  2. The Urban Villages Initiative is a headline action within the NI Executive’s Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy and is overseen by The Executive Office.
  3. The Urban Villages (UV) approach is an area based and community informed approach that promotes good relations through building community infrastructure, social capital and cross community networks.
  4. South Belfast is one of five Urban Villages areas across Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. For more information log on to https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/urban-villages-initiative
  5. The Lockhouse project involves the redevelopment of the former Lockhouse and outdoor space to create a community café/coffee shop, training and exhibition and event space, community garden and men’s shed.
  6. The project, which represents a total investment of circa £2.9M has been a collaboration between the Urban Villages Initiative, the Department for Communities, Department of Infrastructure, Lower Ormeau Resident’s Action Group, and is being delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council.

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