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New-look Belfast city centre study

Words: Roger Milne

A study is under way to develop a shared vision for Belfast city centre and examine how it can be reimagined to meet the changing needs of users.

This work has been commissioned from urbanisation and smart cities consultant Jacobs by the city council, the Department for Infrastructure and the Department for Communities. Its report is due to be completed by the year’s end.

The joint study will consider the changing landscape of the city centre and look at ways to guarantee a more joined-up approach between the council and its statutory partners on issues of placemaking, planning, transport, and regeneration.

It will look at existing and future uses of the city centre in terms of services delivery and accessibility, as well as considering models for pedestrianisation, cycling provision and landscaping.

The expectation is that this initiative will deliver the objectives of the Belfast Agenda, while also supporting businesses and growth. It will look at ways of creating a more connected, sustainable, liveable and people-focused city centre.

Councillor Deirdre Harvey, chair of the council’s regeneration committee, said: “We need to benchmark Belfast against other cities of comparable size and look to them for best practice and ideas on how we can strike the right balance between attracting investment and creating a sustainable, greener city centre which can be enjoyed by everybody, including children and older people, and be a magnet for tourism and creative industries.”

She added: “The role of the city centre is changing – it’s no longer just about retail, and as a council, we must ensure that we are keeping pace with that change. We need the right mix of offices, retail and hotels, as well as housing, colleges and universities.”

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