Big News in Belfast

30.10.09

It is an ambitious project on a huge scale, that is set to deliver an incredible community result. Following a period of extensive consultation, the final masterplan for the regeneration of the Westside of Belfast City Centre has been launched.

RPS will provide project management, landscape architecture, and civil engineering services for the Bank Square Public Realm project as part of the Westside Masterplan. The plans will be produced in compliance with the Department for Social Development’s Belfast City Centre Regeneration Policy Statement, and have a clear target to achieve an Excellent CEEQUAL1. rating, and fully answer Achieving Excellence in Construction standards.

With an estimated budget of £5m, the public realm project focuses on the effective redevelopment of Belfast’s Bank Square, and the associated Chapel Lane, Bank Street, Berry Street, and part of King Street. The area is rich in architectural heritage, but has suffered several generations of poor economy, causing social problems, and pockets of territorial behaviour yet it is a short distance from the busy Royal Avenue and thousands of shoppers. The intention is to transform the area into an appealing and vibrant community area with new homes, and new business, retail and leisure spaces forming a strong sustainable economy – benefiting the existing community, and attracting new people and investment.

The regeneration of Bank Square is the critical first step in the delivery of the Westside project. The masterplan sets out detailed steps to create a positive neighbourhood area which enhances the region’s well-developed independent trade sector, and is sensitive to its heritage – complimenting the historic street pattern, but incorporating effective street lighting and improved public spaces to create a safer environment. The scheme will deliver 322 new homes with 20% affordable housing, nearly 23,000m² floor space for café, restaurant and retail use, over 23,000m² of office floor space, and 280 hotel rooms, in a well-planned and welcoming environment. Much of the retail and restaurant space will be situated in a new public space – Fountain Square, which will be linked to the existing Fountain and Chapel Lanes by footpath, and feature an outdoor performance space to create a strong community focal point.

The result will be a revitalised west quarter of the city, providing a pleasant and secure environment, and creating around 2400 more jobs. New retail and leisure businesses are expected to attract visitors and boost tourism in the city’s northwest quarter, contributing to a good long-term economy within the community, and recognising the regions key role as a positive window of the city as a whole.

1 Civil Engineering Environmental Quality and Assessment Award Scheme.