Approval for a new, multi-million pound transport hub for Belfast could create 400 jobs and represents a massive boost for the construction industry it has been claimed.
Speaking as it emerged that the prestigious scheme has been given the green light by Department for Infrastucture, Construction Employers Federation managing director John Armstrong said it would provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the sector and development across the province.
“The Department has been consistently clear about how and when it would seek to use the clarifying legislation passed by Westminster last autumn, with respect to civil servants powers, and this is the positive outcome of that approach,” he said.
“The delivery of this Executive flagship scheme will bring a much-needed transformation in Northern Ireland’s public transport infrastructure and connectivity and, with its budget in place, it is now critical that the already tendered enabling works begin as soon as practicable to enable the main works to be tendered, awarded and on site before the end of the year,” he added.
“We obviously now hope that other key projects awaiting planning decisions can be advanced in as equally a speedy manner.
The development is set to replace the Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street train station complex.
Chris Conway, Translink group chief executive, said: “We welcome today’s announcement, the scheme which will take around five years to complete is a further milestone in the transformation of public transport in Northern Ireland.
“It is hugely important as the main transport gateway, with rail, coach and bus connections to all parts of Northern Ireland and beyond.
“It will provide over 400 direct jobs during construction as well as additional longer term investment and job opportunities”.
“As a catalyst for the regeneration of the local area, the plans will play a key role in positioning Belfast as a modern, confident and progressive city supporting the City Councils Belfast Agenda.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said: “This news that the Belfast Transport Hub has been approved is a huge boost for Belfast and all of Northern Ireland.
“A bright, safe and accessible transport hub will add to the attractiveness of Belfast as a retail destination, proving a welcome boost for shops right across the city.
“This economic uplift, through construction, improved footfall in the city and the wider regeneration of the area around the hub is extremely important for Belfast, and we look forward to seeing the development progress.”
Retail NI CEO Glyn Roberts said: “This is a genuine good news story for our economy”
“From a retail perspective it is extremely positive as it will improve the City Centre’s connectivity for shoppers and tourists and reduce congestion.
“It will also act as a much needed catalyst for regeneration in that part of the City Centre.”