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Draft local plan strategy for Belfast published

Words: Roger Milne
Belfast / iStock-623186210

Belfast City Council has unveiled the draft strategy for its local development plan, consultation on which will get underway next month.

The 336-page document sets out how the city will grow to meet targets proposed in its community plan, the Belfast Agenda.  

This blue-print is designed to support 46,000 additional jobs; cater for a population growth of 66,000; deliver 31,600 additional homes; and provide 550,000 square metres of B2 floorspace over the plan period, which is between 2020 and 2035.

It sets out the ambitions and policies for housing, infrastructure and sustainable growth in Belfast, and follows extensive consultation with residents, businesses and statutory partners last year.

Among the priorities are a focus on inner Belfast, the provision of new homes in the city centre, maximising the potential for development in accessible locations and support for more sustainable proposals that recognise the realities of climate change.

The document, published yesterday (23 August), insisted that the council would “seek to create the conditions to support regeneration and opportunities for attracting high quality inward investment and jobs.

“This will include creative cultural industries, ICT services, high-tech industry, tourism and life, and health sciences and other innovative sectors that will contribute to jobs, growth and secure Belfast’s role as the regional economic hub whilst supporting growth of indigenous small businesses.”

The plan “will seek to reverse unsustainable development patterns to create a compact city, by growing the residential population alongside the growth in jobs within the existing city urban settlement area".

“Securing an ambitious level of growth will also enable the city to compete with similar sized cities elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, to attract investment, businesses, jobs, and people.”

Initially the rate of new-build housing completions will be between 1,100 and 1,300 dwellings a year, ramping up to between 2,700 and 2,900 by the end of the plan period. The expectation is that 20 per cent of housing development will be affordable.

In areas in the city centre where tall buildings will be located, an average density of around 350 dwellings per hectare will be considered acceptable whereas in outer Belfast, the density will fall to between 25 to 125 dwellings per hectare.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Deirdre Hargey, said: “This is a significant milestone in the delivery of the local development plan and gives a sense of the kind of city we’re seeking to create – global and forward thinking, but with a focus on ensuring everyone feels the benefits of our ambitions”.

Emma Walker, associate director at planning consultancy Turley, said: “The plans outline that 8,000 of these new homes could be accommodated in the city centre, where a density of up to 350 dwellings per hectare are envisaged. This could transform Belfast’s skyline with tall buildings being built to house an influx of residents into the city centre. Social housing needs have also been addressed by the plan, which stipulates a 20 per cent social and affordable housing requirement for future residential developments in the area.

“The plan’s overall success will ultimately rely on ambition and appetite for delivery on the ground. However, there is a great deal of detail in the plan which will provide encouragement for both commercial and residential developers looking to play a role in Belfast’s exciting and vibrant future.”

The draft strategy and consultation events information can be found on the Belfast City Council website.

Image credit | iStock