Belfast Chamber look globally for ideas to improve Northern Ireland’s biggest city

News Letter editorial of Tuesday January 11 2021:

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 9:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 11:19 am
News Letter editorial

Belfast Chamber as put forward imaginative plans for Northern Ireland’s capital city.

The group that represents businesses was responding to a consultation from Belfast City Council into plans for the future of the city centre.

Interestingly, for an organisation that might be seen to represent primarily commercial interests, Belfast Chamber emphasises more elementary aspects of urban life and notes that the city does not have the city centre populations that its counterparts in Great Britain do, such as Leeds or Liverpool.

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Reasons for this, it says, include the lack of open and green space. The city centre is separated from surrounding communities. Belfast Chamber then suggests bold, and pleasing, proposals to rectify this.

One is a tree lined avenue from St Anne’s Cathedral to Botanic Gardens.

Even better is the idea to put a roof over sections of the Westlink and so turn it into a tunnel. This would resolve the long-standing sense of regret that there is in parts of west and north Belfast at having been segregated from the heart of the capital by a wide, noisy motorway.

This intriguing plan, incidentally, is a reminder of why it is important to proceed with the York Street interchange to seamlessly link the M2, M3 and Westlink/M1. Far from cutting the York Street and Shore Road area off from the city, as critics allege, it would separate slower and pedestrian north-south traffic from the busy junction and allow it to travel over the highway.

Other welcome ideas from Belfast Chamber include connecting the city even more closely to the Lagan, in keeping with its maritime past. The existing regeneration of the Lagan and docks area has been one of Belfast’s success stories.

Well done Belfast Chamber for thinking creatively and looking at innovations from cities round the world for inspiration in how to make NI’s much-loved biggest city all the more desirable.

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