Northern Ireland

Dispute hits £21m Belfast Connswater plan

Victoria Park
Image caption An artist's impression of how Victoria Park would look under the plan

A £21m construction project in east Belfast, backed by two Stormont departments and Belfast City Council, has run into difficulties.

The Connswater scheme was aimed at alleviating flooding and developing a public space for cyclists and walkers.

It planned to create a nine kilometre linear park following the course of the Knock, Connswater and Loop rivers.

The BBC understands a dispute has broken out between the contractors and Belfast City Council.

Last November, the £21m contract to build riverside walkways, flood defences and cycle paths was awarded to two firms - SIAC NI Limited and Galliford Try Infrastructure which is building the athletes' village for the London Olympics.

The contract was funded by Belfast City Council, the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Agriculture and the Department for Social Development.

However, it is understood work surrounding the creation of new flood defences has run into difficulties and Belfast City Council and the two firms are trying to resolve the dispute.

One source told the BBC that unless the issue was resolved the contractors may not be able to carry on with the work - and could be forced to withdraw from the multi-million pound scheme.

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said the council was committed to delivering the project on time and within the budget.

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