Forum for an alternative Belfast

Cul–de–sac City

The first maps shows a typical 1980’s inner city cul–de–sac estate only 300 metres from the city centre. Red indicates the public realm areas, areas that must be maintained by public funds. Not only are these red public areas completely incoherent, creating fear and insularity, but they represent the major proportion of the space. Notably there are very few green spaces and gardens – this is no suburban idyll. A comparison map shows an overlay of the same number of older terrace houses with gardens and tree lined streets

The black maps show the street network in an area of North Belfast, 1960 and 2000. One can see the stark reduction in street connections and permeability, one can also see the emergence of cul–de–sac housing that divides the inner city.

The third map is the Forum Missing City Map (follow the link for more information on the Missing City Project). Highlighted in yellow is the remaining Victorian terrace street grain that survived the rebuilding projects from 1970. One can see the relentless and systematic replacement of terraces and mixed use streets with low density cul–de–sac housing. In this process only 40% of the original population was rehoused in the same area, with a consequent loss of shops, businesses and employment. Some reports point to the duplication of services in a divided city – could it be that the real reason is the loss of 60% of population around the natural spacial clusters of neighbourhood services?

These studies demonstrate how over 30 years the public sector systematically ‘unbuilt’ over 6 square kilometres of the city centre at great public expense to create unsustainable neighbourhoods.