Belfast Telegraph

Design firm's eight steps for Belfast to become a leading capital

By Chris Kilpatrick

It's billed as the blueprint for making Belfast one of Europe's most cosmopolitan cities.

And if the steps outlined are acted on, the city could be transformed in under 15 years, claim the architects of the Belfast City Centre Regeneration Strategy and Investment Plan.

The 92-page document was put together for Belfast City Council by Canada-based planning and design firm, Urban Strategies Inc.

The raft of changes follow meetings with business and civic leaders which culminated in a conference last June to test the policies, projects and approaches put forward.

Proposals to redesign Belfast's Oxford Street are contained in the plans aimed at overhauling the city centre as a whole.

Overall it is intended to maximise the potential from foreign investment, tourism, and major public and private developments.

It sets out eight goals to put the city on a par with its European counterparts.

In order to achieve the eight policies, the document highlights projects for each district.

Five Special Action Areas are identified.

They include the northern quarter and maximising changes through the relocation of the University of Ulster.

In the western quarter, proposals are outlined to revitalise Castle Street, CastleCourt and Smithfield Market as a vibrant shopping district.

The north east quarter including Royal Exchange includes proposals for the regeneration of the largely vacant block through anchor developments and smaller supporting units.

The proposals highlight the need for the development of a new transport hub around Great Victoria Street.

And work on Oxford Street and the eastern bank district is set out.

"Reuniting the centre with the River Lagan requires a major re-imaging of Oxford Street as a waterfront boulevard rather than a busy arterial," it reads.

"To ensure a comparable level of quality in the public realm on the eastern bank of the river, the design of the river frontage in Queen's Quay also requires careful attention."

The proposals are open for public consultation until April.

8 goals to put Belfast on par with European cities

  • Increasing employment population
  • Increasing the residential population
  • Managing the retail offer
  • Maximising the tourism opportunity
  • Creating the region's learning and innovation centre
  • Create a green, walkable, cyclable centre
  • Connect to the city around
  • Shared space ensuring the city centre is welcoming and attractive place for everyone

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