Using the zebrafish neural tube as a model, we uncover the in vivo mechanisms allowing the generation of two opposing apical epithelial surfaces within the centre of an initially unpolarised, solid organ. We show that Mpp5a and Rab11a play a dual role in coordinating the generation of ipsilateral junctional belts whilst simultaneously releasing contralateral adhesions across the centre of the tissue. We show that Mpp5a- and Rab11a-mediated resolution of cell-cell adhesions are both necessary for midline lumen opening and contribute to later maintenance of epithelial organisation. We propose that these roles for both Mpp5a and Rab11a operate through the transmembrane protein Crumbs. In light of a recent conflicting publication, we also clarify that the junction-remodelling role of Mpp5a is not specific to dividing cells.