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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Forum for Alternative Belfast 2011 Summer School: Area Analysis (Part 2 of 4)

Part two of the four part PLACE Blog series focusing on the Forum for Alternative Belfast summer school provides brief analysis of the area between inner south Belfast and the city centre.


This year the summer school focused on the connections between south Belfast and the city centre. To provide some background to this I have selected some of the main connections and considered their performance as inner city streets and successful places.




Map of the summer school area.

Great Victoria Street (Bruce Street - Shaftesbury Square section)


Analysis of Great Victoria Street
from Bruce Street to Shaftesbury Square.
Strength: Wide Street and direct 'vista' to city centre.

Weakness: Poor pedestrian environment.
A selection of the paving materials on Great Victoria Street.

Weakness: What is this space?
The relationship between building and street is poor on much of this street.

Weakness: Set-back building lines are common along Great Victoria Street.

Weakness: Public vs Private space.
There are more bollards on this section of Great Victoria Street than occupied buildings.

Weakness: There are 5 empty plots on this one section of Great Victoria Street. 


Opportunity: Good historic building stock.
Opportunity: New development sites.
E.g. South Bank Square development above will provide two new hotels.
Credit: Robinson McIlwaine Architects.

Opportunity: Ground floor commercial and upper floor residential.

Threat: Low occupancy.
 Great Victoria Street is a street of two halves - From Howard Street to Bruce Street is relatively active but moving on toward Shaftesbury Square and the street is becomes a bleak, unoccupied street. A quick survey found that almost half of this section of the street is vacant. Of the 26 active uses only one was open at 7pm on a Friday evening (a tanning and beauty salon). Looking at the building uses I soon discovered that only one building on this section of Great Victoria Street was actively used for residential accommodation (completed earlier this year).


Shaftesbury Square

Shaftesbury Square analysis.

Strength and Opportunity: Important meeting point for six key inner city routes:
Donegall Road, Bradbury Place, University Street, Donegall Pass, Dublin Road and Great Victoria Street.
Potential to become an attractive public space connecting south Belfast with the city centre.

Opportunity: Large space for reconfiguration of traffic and implementation of
pedestrian priority measures. Potential for significant public realm works.

Threat: Poor pedestrian environment severing the link between south Belfast and the city centre.

Potential: Ground floor commercial units opening onto an attractive public space.

Threat: Traffic domination.


Dublin Road

Dublin Road analysis.

Strength and Opportunity: Dublin Road has good occupancy rates
at ground floor and is reasonably active nearly 24hrs a day all week.

Weakness and Opportunity: The pedestrian environment could be improved.
This junction could be tightened and pedestrian priority implemented to ensure the continuation of a direct link between the city centre and south Belfast.

Threat: The construction of the inner city ring could be devastating
for the Dublin Road and the connection with the city centre.
This photo shows the area of Bruce Street reserved for the inner
ring between Dublin Road and the city centre.


Bruce Street

Bruce Street lacks active building frontages along the south side of the street.
However the city centre side of the street is almost fully occupied at ground level.
This provides a good basis to creating a successful street - Development on the
car park would instantly change the feel of this 'road' into a 'street'.


Hope Street

Hope Street is located to the right of the car park pay station yet
the area to the left is also empty. This is due to the set back building
line for an inner city ring road. Hope Street has 29 poles / signs on
the pavements and just 2 buildings - one of which is largely on Great
Victoria Street due to its corner location and the other (see photo) is
set back from the street. 

The connection to the Bus and Rail Station from Hope Street is lost behind a car park.


Bankmore Street

Bankmore Street currently.
How Bankmore Street could look with an inner city ring road implemented.


Ormeau Avenue

Ormeau Avenue and the road reservation line which provides
a 'barrier' between south Belfast and the city centre. The city
centre side of Ormeau Avenue provides attractive historic
buildings which could help to create an attractive street if
development was permitted on the reservation line.

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