National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million
In 2004, National Lottery players’ support helped The National Trust purchase Divis and the Black Mountain. More recently, with support of £360,300, the charity worked with others to develop the Divis: A View to the Future project. Now, a £3m delivery award will turn these plans into reality to help restore its natural habitat, improve accessibility and upgrade facilities.
Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This project will be transformative, opening walking routes that connect communities currently cut off from the nature on their doorstep, providing new and improved facilities and protecting the biodiversity of the hills that are iconic to Belfast’s skyline.”
Conservation work will improve the biodiversity and sustainability of the site. Up to 133 hectares of peatland will be restored improving blanket bog to reduce carbon loss and water run-off and improve water quality.
New and rejuvenated spaces will be developed for use by the community, staff, volunteers and visitors. Disused and derelict buildings will be transformed into a new café and visitor hub. An existing barn will host an exhibition space and staff accommodation, and an accessible outdoor learning area including new ponds will be created nearby. New waymarking and interpretation will enhance visitors’ experience alongside new benches at viewpoints.
Heather McLachlan, Director for The National Trust in Northern Ireland, said: “We want it to be a place where everyone feels they belong. We’ll do this by working in partnership with the local community, who are at the heart of our work.”
Over 3,500 people will have the opportunity to participate in a three-year activity programme that includes:
- an oral history project recording the experience of people who lived around the mountain
- workshops on people and placenames, wood carving, archaeology and storytelling
- health and wellbeing activities and community walks
Five full and part-time roles have been created to manage and facilitate the project, oversee volunteering and community engagement and to welcome visitors.