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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Work starts on 1bn docks project
Artist's impression of Titanic Quarter plans
Homes, office and commercial developments are planned
Work on the first phase of the Titanic Quarter, the biggest property development scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland, is beginning.

The redevelopment of Belfast's former shipyard area is expected to take up to 20 years and cost up to 1bn.

Work to clear the 185-acre docklands site has been under way since the proposals were announced in March.

The plans include 3,000 homes, along with office and commercial developments that could employ up to 20,000 people.

Artist's impression of the Titanic light sculpture

An ambitious 100m heritage project at the site where the Titanic was built is also planned.

It will include a full-scale model of the liner, exhibition galleries and a hotel and conference centre.

It is hoped the attraction will be open by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the ship's launch.

The Titanic Signature Project envisages a centrepiece building, three times the size of Belfast City Hall, based on the slipway where Titanic and her sister ships were built.

The first phase of the Titanic Quarter project was launched on Tuesday by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

Mr Hain said it was a "graphic reminder" that the economic world does not stand still.

"The scale of the opportunity for employment, housing, investment and regeneration on this site in east Belfast is enormous," he said.


Mr Hain said there had already been major changes in Belfast through the Laganside and Victoria Square developments.

"We now have the opportunity to build on this momentum to re-establish Belfast and Northern Ireland as a great place to visit, invest in and above all to live in."

The Federation of Small Businesses regional chairman, John Friel, said the redevelopment would offer chances for new start small businesses.

"These plans are potentially the most exciting development that Belfast has seen in a generation," he said.

"We hope that it will be the centre of major economic and social regeneration for the whole of our capital city and surrounding areas."

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