Belfast Telegraph

Plan launched to regenerate faded Sailortown district

By Adrian Rutherford

A blueprint to help shape the future development and regeneration of Belfast's Sailortown area has been unveiled.

The working-class dockland community adjacent to City Quays was once a bustling economic hub. But in recent years it has become an almost forgotten part of the city.

Now plans have emerged to reinvigorate Sailortown, linking the area back to the city centre.

Communities Minister Paul Givan said the masterplan would complement the existing range of plans and policies.

It will also take account of the likely impact of the proposed York Street Interchange on the area.

"Sailortown is a historically significant area of Belfast, intrinsically linked to the economy of the city and its trade; however, the last 50 years have witnessed significant decline, with the reduction in population and employment opportunities and the loss of much of its original character," Mr Givan said.

"This masterplan creates an opportunity to reinvigorate Sailortown by encouraging comprehensive development and linking the area back to the city centre through the design and improvement of key routes."

Mr Givan said the plans could help boost the area's economic potential.

"The masterplan can help create the right conditions to attract investors, employers, residents and visitors back to Sailortown, capitalising on other major developments in the neighbouring areas such as the new Ulster University campus," he added.

The masterplan is a long-term, 10 to 15-year vision for the neighbourhood, also known as the Greater Clarendon area.

It aims to take account of its key waterfront position, and create seamless links between Greater Clarendon, the city centre and the Laganside area, as well as encouraging comprehensive development.

It presents a range of specific proposals in terms of land use; key transport, pedestrian and cycle links and opportunities for a new neighbourhood in Sailortown.

Further proposals suggest integration with projects such as the new Ulster University campus; improvements to Dunbar Link; maximising those areas beneath the motorway flyover, and opportunities for creating attractive public squares and spaces.

The masterplan has been developed following a period of consultation which concluded earlier this year.

It was originally commissioned in 2008, to provide an overarching framework for the development of the area.

An initial draft was prepared in 2009 but this has subsequently undergone a series of updates to incorporate the ongoing transport engineering and environmental work that has been undertaken in relation to the York Street Interchange - a proposed highway improvement scheme that will have a significant impact on the area.

Established in the mid-19th century on partly reclaimed land, Sailortown had a mixed Protestant and Catholic population.

The 1907 dock strike called by trade union leader James Larkin commenced in Sailortown before spreading throughout the city.

Urban redevelopment in the late 1960s resulted in Sailortown's eventual demolition. Only a handful of churches, pubs, and houses remain around the once bustling waterfront enclave.

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