Continued demolitions leaving Belfast ‘completely soulless’

The three buildings (centre of picture) which were demolished in North Street, Belfast
The three buildings (centre of picture) which were demolished in North Street, Belfast

People need to wake up to the scale of redevelopment in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter before it becomes “completely soulless,” a walking tour guide has warned.

Adam Turkington organises guided tours around the city’s street art locations, and has grave concerns about last weekend’s demolition of three late Victorian buildings as they were being considered for listed status.

Conservation charity the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) expressed “outrage” that the North Street properties – between numbers 95 and 107 – were knocked down weeks before a listing application was due before Belfast City Council’s planning committee.

Mr Turkington said many of those on the walking tours find it unbelievable that such interesting buildings with potential can be left to rot and eventually demolished.

“Up until very recently one of the three was an artists’ studio and would have been full of artists right up until around the time the application for listing was made [in March this year],” he said.

The Seedhead Arts tour guide said “much more devastating” planning permission has already been granted for new buildings in Donegall Street and Lower North Street as part of the Royal Exchange project.

He added: “I have been inside many of these buildings and they are phenomenal with beautiful rooms. We are going to rip the soul out of our city... it will be completely soulless.

“There should be places with cobbled streets and beautiful old Victorian buildings and important architectural heritage.”

On Thursday, the UAHS said it will seek an urgent meeting with communities minister Paul Givan, adding: “Urgent reassessment of the approach to the practical protection of historic buildings must be addressed, not only in north Belfast but across Northern Ireland.”