Lagan Valley MLA Jenny Palmer has called for further investment in the constituency’s greenways network in order to benefit local people and attract more visitors.
After raising the issue in the NI Assembly, Mrs Palmer said that she has “secured a much-needed cash pledge” from Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard.
The UUP’s infrastructure spokesperson asked the Minister if he would “give a commitment to meet the Lagan Navigation Trust to explore the unique opportunities that exist in linking the greenways network with Lagan Valley Regional Park and the blueways network to allow for the greatest possible benefit to the network?”
Responding to Mrs Palmer, the Minister commented: “Absolutely, yes. I declare an interest, in that I am a regular user of the Lagan towpath in particular. It has great heritage and also great potential for the future.
“You only have to go on to it at the weekend to see that it is absolutely buzzing. It is like a high street in the town. It is great to see.”
He added: “The long-term vision of the Lagan linking into the restoration of the Ulster Canal and even further is a project that is worth good attention in the years ahead.
“I only wish that I had the money to start work tomorrow. As I say, it would be a fantastic project. Yes, I am more than happy to do so.”
Welcoming the Minister’s response, Mrs Palmer said: “We should not underestimate the tremendous potential which developing the Lagan Valley Regional Park and neighbouring facilities can bring to plans to regenerate the economic and tourist life of our constituency.
“I certainly will be lobbying the Minister regularly until he can find the necessary budget to devote to such a worthwhile project, which could become a fantastic source of income generation in Lagan Valley.”