Forum for an alternative Belfast

Summer School 2011– Streets not Roads

Results of 2011 Summer School (published poster available)

South Belfast may be considered reasonably well connected for a pedestrian or a cyclist to the city centre. This is the case for the Dublin Road but not the Ormeau Road, Great Victoria Street and Sandy Row. Walking or cycling along these roads remains a bleak experience, especially at night. The study area includes neighbourhoods of economic deprivation, including Sandy Row, the Markets, Donegall Pass and Lower Ormeau.

One of the main causes for the blight and vacant sites in the area is a long standing inner ring road plan by the Department for Regional Development Roads Service. The road proposal has caused blight by its ‘take line’ and the vacant sites are clearly seen on the Forum’s “Missing City Map” – the product of the first Summer School in 2009. This road was first conceived back in the 1960’s and the Westlink section of this plan was realised but the southern section was never built and later reduced to that of a projected inner ring road to remove the traffic from the centre and around the City Hall. This road includes Hope Street, Bruce Street, Bankmore Street, Cromac Street, Victoria Street, Dunbar Link, Millfield, Durham Street and the Boyne Bridge and is now part of the wider policies including DRD “Belfast on the Move”, “Streets Ahead”, “Rapid Transit” and other sustainable transport measures.

The drive of these policies is to move the traffic from the City Hall to the new ring road potentially severing pedestrian and cycle routes from housing areas and the wider south Belfast from the centre. The threat of this road has loomed over these inner city communities for nearly 50 years.

Over 80 people packed the Crescent Arts Centre on Friday 19th August 2011 to hear the outcomes of the week. This publication demonstrates what civic and community resolution of problems can achieve in active workshops. 

– The implementation of these ideas should not be allowed to be of poor quality and with no gain to all neighbourhoods.

– If other modes of transport were taken into consideration together with a wider spread of traffic over the city over a five, ten, fifteen year period a series of streets would be needed but not a four to six lane wide road.

– A road is not needed to facilitate Rapid Transit.

– Hope Street, Bruce Street, Bankmore Street, Ormeau Avenue and Cromac Street can be tree lined with wide pavements for pedestrians and cyclists. Cromac Street is remade as an arterial street with active frontages.

–The new streets are walkable/cycling links between the proposed new Belfast Central Rail station and the River Lagan with a bridge to the Ormeau Park and East Belfast beyond.

– Land in public ownership can be released for housing and other uses providing active frontages.

– The social and civil leadership demonstrated to resolve this blight requires that release of public land for development is conditioned with social clauses to ensure community gain and design quality.

– An independent critical design review process is required to ensure the best result for the city and adjacent neighbourhoods. This project should not develop with the random and poor quality speculation that the city has seen in the last decade.