02/07/2010

Causeway Centre Takes First 'Giant' Step

A small step on the road to completing the Giant's Causeway visitor centre was taken this week.

The sod-cutting marked the commencement of the first stage of works on the £18.5m project at the Giant's Causeway world heritage site.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster joined the National Trust's Director for Northern Ireland, Hilary McGrady on site on Wednesday to celebrate this significant milestone in the project.

The cutting of the first sod, marks the beginning of the works to restore and conserve the headland, and replace visitor facilities at the World Heritage Site and the delivery of the award winning design.

The first phase of work involves making changes to the Causeway Hotel to allow it to be used as the location for temporary visitor facilities during the building of the new facility - although the hotel will continue to operate as a hotel throughout the build process.
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This element of the project is being delivered by builders Gilbert-Ash with whom the Trust worked on the refurbishment of the Crown Bar. The work at the hotel is expected to take 16 weeks.

In the next few weeks it is also expected that the second tranche of activity will start - the enabling works - which will involve: extending the car park in front of the Causeway Hotel, changing the use of Innisfree Farm to become an additional car park, installing a series of variable message signs in the wider Causeway area, and relining the car park at Dundarave in Bushmills to allow for a park and ride service.

All of this work must be completed prior to the main build for the new visitors' centre commencing. This work is expected to take 18 weeks.

Commenting at the beginning of the work, Regional Director, Hilary McGrady, said: "This is such an important day for the Giant's Causeway, the local community and the people of Northern Ireland."

(BMcC/GK)

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