Future Belfast is developing around us right now. Looking across the skyline today there are 16 building cranes transforming the cityscape. Ten years ago driving over the M3 Lagan Bridge the view across the city was very similar - the cranes of Victoria Square, Titanic Quarter and Laganside.
Intrigued by the scale of change and lack of apparent information an idea developed into Future Belfast. The concept was simple; provide a free, impartial resource to document and archive the ongoing changes to the city's built environment. There are now over 600 buildings documented; past, present and future, alongside over 5,000 photographs.
Future Belfast developed from a frustration with the lack of information available on the rapidly changing city. Debate and discussion was happening, but it was difficult to access the facts. These were the early days of Twitter and there was no online planning portal.
Future Belfast began rising up through the Google search rankings. People were visiting the resource, and returning - almost daily! I wasn't alone and people were genuinely interested, and passionate, about their city. The website's unique visitor numbers were growing month-on-month.
Twitter took Future Belfast to the next level, with instant, live documentation and it celebrates 10 years online in November. It's often easy to forget how much has changed. In 2006, Victoria Square was a hole in the ground, Titanic Quarter was a vision and student accommodation was a small HMO property in south Belfast.
FutureBelfast.com reveals that in 10 years the city built 1,774 city centre apartments; today there are nearly 2,000 purpose-built managed student accommodation rooms under construction. In the previous 10 years the city built eight new hotels; today there are seven under construction. There is nearly 500,000 sq ft of new-build office accommodation under construction.
What will the city look like in 2026? Whilst not providing the answer, FutureBelfast.com provides some insight into the direction the city is moving.
Join the many other stakeholders in property, planning and local government using FutureBelfast.com regularly and explore the 28 city centre buildings currently under construction, 35 due to start in 2017 and 19 at pre-planning stage.
You can visit www.futurebelfast.com or follow it on Twitter @FutureBelfast