Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Future City: Creation of vibrant hub is key objective

By Rebecca Black

Belfast: Future City is an ambitious plan designed to transform the city centre from concrete jungle with low residency to a greened-up vibrant community.

Where beautiful old buildings lie derelict, Canadian planning expert Joe Berridge has suggested housing students; where the Lagan is often ignored, he has suggested floating arts festivals, where the new York Street interchange could become cars only, he has proposed installing five-a-side football pitches.

Mr Berridge praised Titanic Belfast and the Mac as bold gambles which paid off, he said another major attraction or event needed to be established to keep the visitors which are brought in engaged.

In general terms, the proposals, also known as the Berridge plan, envisage four focus points for investment – North Centre, Core, South Centre and Lagan Corridor.

Mr Berridge suggests increasing the population of the city centre, creating more office space, drawing in a big retailer such as John Lewis to revitalise the shopping offering, and creating a greener, walkable, cyclable centre.

Specifically the top planner talks about six major projects for the city centre including relocating the BBC on the north side, creating a new transport hub at Great Victoria Street and founding a new museum or gallery.

One of the most dramatic proposals was about making the River Lagan central to city life with new promenades, major landscaping and public art, two new pedestrian bridges, lighting and even floating art festivals.

The plans could be realised in the next 10 years, Mr Berridge told councillors when he presented his plans to them at the Waterfront Hall in June.

Included in a plan are recommendations for:

  • Our first John Lewis store on Royal Avenue to breathe life back into the formerly grand street.
  • Two new pedestrian bridges to connect City Quays to the Odyssey and Titanic Quarter, and the Gasworks to Ormeau Park.
  • A new transport hub at Great Victoria Street as a "green urban gateway to the centre".
  • Shaftesbury Square softened with landscaping and trees.

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