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15th Aug 2019 in Business

Tribeca Belfast launched their Voluntary Public Consultation earlier this month and have seen a steady stream of commentary from businesses, heritage groups and Belfast residents.

This is an informal process that has been widely taken up by the public. Extensive, sold out, walking tours of the proposed scheme have been led by Conservation Architects Consarc. A hub has been established on North Street as a drop in for people to attend, view plans and understand the development proposals further.

It’s a chance to understand revised proposals interpreted by the new scheme architects, Squire & Partners, and the opportunity to take on board a lot of initial concerns from City Stakeholders.

A quick overview has seen:
  • Residential accommodation: This has increased doubling the amount of units to circa 360. A commitment for mixed tenure (private & affordable) has also been promoted.
  • Pedestrian focused: a revisioned North street with a pedestrian only thoroughfare will provide welcome ‘breathing space’ for larger buildings and allow people to dwell and linger in the area.
  • Car Parking: a ‘U-turn’ (excuse the pun) from the original undercroft parking scenario that would see a car dominated space.
  • Connectivity/Linkages: reconnecting the City core and Cathedral Quarter through new streets/entries
  • Donegall Arcade: revisiting a re-imagined arcade with provision for small business be they retail or social enterprise
  • Heritage Assets: reflections and revisions to commit to a wide range of designated and non-designated heritage assets within the conservation area is welcomed and will add a great weight to the attractiveness to the experience of the area.

Whilst still high level, we all want to get down to the ‘nitty gritty’. Personal thoughts remain that we need much bigger commitment to trees & green infrastructure. Writers Square remains a concern, we already have little public space and whilst unloved and underutilised at present, a vibrant and repopulated City will demand event spaces which are currently few and far between. Making sure that space is not repurposed for commercial ‘spill out’ and that it can adequately host a city centre event is important.

Other considerations that sit with the City Council planners are elements around amenity use. Health and education provisions likes Dentists and nurseries are key in future-proofing our city for this anticipated influx of residents and needs further exploration with the City planners.

Plans and imagery aren’t for everyone thus it was great to see CQ stalwarts NVTV recently had the chance to interview the design team and is worth the short watch to understand some of the thinking behind the revised scheme proposals.

The Round-Up Tuesday 13th August 2019 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo.

 

From a business perspective there is wide spread agreement that there is now an urgency to act and deliver on the initial proposals. Planning permission for the first phase has been approved for restoration of Lower Garfield Street as mixed use residential scheme alongside a large Commercial office scheme adjacent. This would have a significant catalytic effect on the likes of Upper Royal Avenue, with the University of Ulster proposition coming along . From a developer perspective, what’s needed is the complimentary investment from the longstanding commitment made by the Council and Statutory agencies. Public realm and water infrastructure is in dire need of investment, and business and property owners need signs of confidence.

Again, I use this opportunity to bang the drum on Streets Ahead 3, Belfast Central Library and Cathedral Gardens (Buoy Park), all interventions that could give locals a much more positive experience of the area.

As an aside, a very simple intervention that has been great is the use of the consultation hub and the decision to not use shutters after hours. This small change has added a simple feeling of activity to the area.

What next?

Feedback closes Wednesday 21st August

You can also find their response questionnaire and final opening times to view their proposal here

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