Nearly 80 acres of Inner and Central North Belfast will be redeveloped in the next 5 years, This is an unprecedented scale of city development that most people are not aware of because the various projects are all known by different names, but all these projects are adjacent to each other.
In the midst of all this construction and disruption are hundreds of existing residents.
Ashton Community Trust recently commissioned research to explore residents experience of this major redevelopment in Inner North Belfast. This area is emerging as the largest construction zone in the city, this includes the Motorway Interchange and the new Ulster University campus.
Nearly £ 1billion of investment is underway but crucially there is no coordination of all these projects. No agency is ensuring the city is getting the synergies right, and avoiding mistakes that will undermine city development for decades.
This event premiers a short film summarising the emerging issues facing residents. Ashton commissioned Community Places to conduct a detailed survey of over 150 homes.
The results raise questions for policy makers and city management about how this development can be implemented in a way that sustains central city residents in the context of the Belfast Agenda that imagines a “sustainable city shared and loved by its citizens”
Local residents explained:
“Residents experience the negative impacts, unprecedented dust and noise, often disruptive night working. As sites are excavated we have rodents invading neighbourhood areas. When the Motorway Interchange project starts we are fearful that we will be engulfed with even worse problems.”
“There are no projects or funding that will give us any respite from the many negative effects of living through this disruption. Some people need double glazing, others are elderly and confined to their homes, they will be overlooking hundreds of metres of construction and temporary traffic. Nor are there any social projects coming out at the end that might benefit the community or the primary school set in the midst of the work.
“Surely in this scale of development there should be a community plan pulling it all together, with parks and well designed spaces, a way of making it bearable during the work?
Mark Hackett, an architect working in Ashton said;
“Many students are moving into new buildings, but they too are going to be lost in a sea of busy roads, noise and dirt and disruption.
“We seem to be building a new city but there is no vision or action plan that might convince people this will be a good city centre to live in, one that integrates existing residents and respects everyone.
Paul Roberts Chief Executive of Ashton Community Trust explained;
“Ashton are trying to articulate solutions and positive projects that could mitigate the worst impacts. But we need to see large projects like the £165m Road Interchange levering in complementary budgets for these solutions.
We have been working at this for some years and now have a number of ideas that could bring social projects into the city centre, These projects would benefit residents but also create and improve connections into North Belfast for the benefit of all. We need a coordinated discussion with government departments about how this is going to happen in the next years.”
For further information contact Paul O’Neill, Community Development Coordinator, Ashton on 02890742255 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To download the full Survey Report, please click on the link: https://bit.ly/2VTxMJ8