Graeme Moore, Consarc Design Group has been working in collaboration with the lead architects Squire and Partners to advise on the heritage and conservation aspects of the outline Tribeca Belfast proposals.
As the public exhibition gets underway, he explains how Belfast is adapting for the requirements of the next generation.
When you arrive into a city for the first time, you can learn a lot about its history and its current dynamic by looking at the architecture around you.
Belfast’s story is mapped out in all of our buildings, from the beauty of the Georgian period in Clifton House, to the towers and turrets of the Victoria era at Queen’s University and the Ulster Hall. In each building you can tell a lot about the lifestyles of the people they were built for.
Architecture is in a constant state of flux as it adapts to the lives of those it is created to serve. A city which doesn’t adapt to reflect the aspirations and demands of how people live, work and socialise will stagnate.
Change of this nature is normally a gradual process, however if we look at a project like Tribeca Belfast, a 12-acre site located beside St Anne’s Cathedral bounded by Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, Lower Garfield Street and Rosemary Street, the area demands a holistic approach in order to be successful.
By walking the streets of the application area, it is clear to see that as it stands it is a hole in the city’s fabric, with many of the buildings lying in a dilapidated condition following years of neglect.
The area of the proposed development contains buildings from most decades of the last 100 years and it is important to retain examples from every era for future generations.
It is possible for a city to adapt to changes in a way which is reflective of the past and as heritage consultants our work relates to advising on the listed buildings within the Tribeca Belfast scheme, the other important buildings within the two Conservation Areas and the impact of the development on their setting.
In June, Castlebrooke Investments revealed a series of positive amendments to the outline planning application for Tribeca Belfast and launched a voluntary 10 week public consultation process ahead of the submission of the proposal in Autumn 2019.
The appointment of a new lead architect, Squire and Partners, brings with it a fresh approach of innovative, quality design which responds to and respects the unique context.
The proposals demonstrate that Castlebrooke Investments have listened to the valuable comments of interested parties and the new scheme realises the aspiration of reintroducing the North Street Arcade in a new format.
The controversial tall building at the corner to Bridge Street, North Street and Rosemary Street has been omitted, with this building completely reconsidered.
Although it is always necessary to recognise that there is a need for new development of a particular scale in order to balance the costs of building restorations, the Castlebrooke proposals retain all of the Listed Buildings within the development boundary. Additionally, the revised proposals retain a much greater quantity of built heritage fabric within the conservation area which contribute to the historic streetscape. A mixed use, heritage led scheme, like the amended plans for Tribeca Belfast, will respect the historic street forms and architecture but bring with it new and vibrant uses to encourage living, work and play in the city centre like no other development locally.
The previous comments have been taken on board and consultations have shaped the amendments now presented. The ongoing process of consultation, which is voluntary on behalf of Castlebrooke Investments, will continue to inform the scheme moving forward.
All those who have an interest in heritage and in Belfast as a continually improving city should come along to the public consultation, which has opened at 6-8 North Street, Belfast, to have an opportunity for their voice to be heard.
The walking tours of the area will allow visitors to view the area as it is at the moment and compare this to the exciting proposals presented in the consultation space.
To register for the walking tours please visit: www.tribeca-belfast.co.uk