Fight to save historic Boyne Bridge goes on

Declan Hill Architect pictured during a presentation in support of the Boyne Bridge in the Black Box in Belfast.' Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Declan Hill Architect pictured during a presentation in support of the Boyne Bridge in the Black Box in Belfast.' Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

The fight to save the Boyne Bridge has been boosted by new plans which accommodate the historic bridge along with a new transport hub.

The independent architect behind the drawings believes they provide a solution which suit all parties.

Declan Hill unveiled his sketches yesterday at an event in Belfast attending by interested parties including members of the Boyne Bridge Defenders group, set up specifically to protect the Sandy Row landmark.

The plans were also due to form part of a presentation to Belfast City Council’s planning committee last night in a bid to have the Translink hub plan reviewed.

Translink’s vision include the replacement of the Boyne Bridge with a new streetscape to “improve connectivity”.

In his plans Mr Hill of Belfast Urban Studio makes provision for a shared public space in the location vacated by the old bus and rail station.

The other key difference from Translink’s plans was to shift the new hub further to the south west to allow the retention of the Boyne Bridge.

He claimed Translink’s plan had taken “the easiest solution possible” to build a new hub on waste land while using the existing bus and rail station, then “flipping over” when the new hub was ready.

“From a cost point of view it’s the most efficient way to do things,” he said. “But the question is, is it the best solution for the people of Belfast and its visitors?”

Mr Hill said the result of this proposal would mean the new hub would be nearly as far away from City Hall as Central Station is now.

In his proposal Mr Hill suggested painting the Boyne Bridge yellow – as Harland and Wolff were involved in its construction – and using it as a canape to the entrance to the new transport hub.

He said the current four-lane capacity of the road above the Boyne Bridge could be reduced to two, allowing one extra lane to be used as a taxi rank and the other as a wide pedestrian walkway over “one of the best vantage points in the city”.

A Translink spokesperson said the company is “fully mindful of the need to respect the past as part of this project”.

They added: “We intend to reuse and integrate the steel, lights and plaque from the existing Boyne Bridge within our contemporary design scheme.”