Summer School 2010 – 6 Links
INTER–CHANGE is a project growing out of the 2010 Summer School and following an information session at Clifton House on 12th November 2010 hosted by BCRC and Sharing the Urban Agenda.
The York Street Interchange is a longstanding ambition of DRD Roads Service to complete the work first envisioned in the 1960’s, the M1 (Westlink) M2 and M3 cross harbour all converge on the York Street area. Currently much of the traffic emerges from the motorways onto the streets and is held at traffic lights. The DRD Roads Service Interchange proposal has an option to bury some of the roads, taking regional traffic off Belfast streets. It also has a separate flyover option which will place roads some 18 metres in the air, in this option the tops of articulated trailers would be going through the air equivalent to the height of a seven storey building. Clearly this has a wide impact on North Belfast neighbourhoods and their connection into the city centre. If we want to create shared space in the city we must remove roads as barriers to pedestrian and cycle movement.
The 6 Links outcome of the 2011 Summer School envisioned a way that the Interchange could be contained by carefully designed buildings that create quiet courtyards and landscape. With regional traffic removed from the surrounding streets, there is an opportunity for these to be calmed and returned to active pedestrian and cycle friendly links that also become good streets with gardens, trees, shops and housing. The project aims to be transformative. Significantly it also creates higher value lands where none were imagined possible, and as with the Divis Link project, Forum assert that this gain is retained for the communities in North Belfast. This project should be driven by community interest.
The project also aims to pull in best practice in design, environmental management of rain and air quality, landscape and ecology, paving design and creation of local jobs and employment.
During April 2011, post–graduate architecture students from University of Ulster presented 25 detailed design projects and a large scale model of the Forum Interchange proposal, this work was included in INTER–CHANGE, an exhibition at the Golden Thread Gallery from 29th April 2011 running for four weeks. During the course of the exhibition various talks and round talk discussions took place.
In June 2011 DRD Roads Service ran their formal public consultation process for their option proposals for two days. 80 submissions were made to DRD however no further consultation with the public on this decision has since taken place.
On Thursday 6th December 2012 at 10.30am at the Ramada Encore Hotel (Belfast) the Minister for Regional Development, Mr Danny Kennedy, announced that the Roads Services Preferred Option for the York Street Interchange was Option 2.
Prior to this the Forum for Alternative Belfast had suggested to the Road Services that a modified version of option C, partially tunneled, would meet the Road Service requirements and allow for the re–stitching of the urban structure of inner north Belfast, so that the planning of the new infrastructure can be considered as a strategic urban design opportunity and not just a “roads only” project.
Click the York Street Interchange Decision event link for more information and images.