I love Marinas.
I’m still enchanted with the idea of a decent marina in Belfast. There are nice marinas in Carrickfergus and Bangor but it seems odd not to have one in Belfast.
Not only would the location be good for visiting sailors, but also a community amenity. The whole of Airport Road West is filled with office blocks and heaps of technology-related companies but, if you’ve ever worked there, you have to leave there if you want to eat – either through the entrance at Dee Street or Holywood Exchange.
My vision would be for a full service marina complete with an on-site chandlers and supplies. It would have a serviced bar serving pub grub as well as a proper restaurant. these facilities would be open to the many government departments in Clare House as well as the dozens of other businesses (CEM, BT, Fujitsu, Phoenix, Equiniti ICS, White Noise, Level Seven and more) which are along that road.
It would not compete in any way with B&Q, Sainsburys and IKEA (and Decathlon, NEXT or Harvey Norman) in Holywood Exchange but the presence of these retail outlets highlights what a great location this would be for visitors.
Being close to George Best International Airport would just encourage the development of a charter business which offered the coverage of the North Coast of Ireland and the Western Coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man. And the proximity to bus routes (Holywood is a brisk 1.5 miles away and Belfast City Centre is 4.5 miles away) and a train station passing by would make such a difference to the region.
It’s close to two nature reserves (both on Airport Road West), at the top of the Ards Peninsula, a couple of miles away from some nice hotels (Stormont, Culloden), a spa and gym or two within a stones throw away.
Now, all I need is an architect, a powerful alliance within Belfast Harbour Commissioners, a truckload of lawyers and marine architects and engineers and a couple of million quid. Simples.