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Plans for Castle Street and surrounding area go on show

MAKING BIG PLANS: Architect Mark Hackett, Callie Persic, Belfast City Council, Professor Ken Sterrett, architect Ciarán Mackel, Geraldine McAteer, West Belfast Partnership Board and local councillor, and James Collier of Belfast City Council, with the Inner North West Masterplan of Belfast at a seminar held in Belfast MET, Springvale Community Learning Centre MAKING BIG PLANS: Architect Mark Hackett, Callie Persic, Belfast City Council, Professor Ken Sterrett, architect Ciarán Mackel, Geraldine McAteer, West Belfast Partnership Board and local councillor, and James Collier of Belfast City Council, with the Inner North West Masterplan of Belfast at a seminar held in Belfast MET, Springvale Community Learning Centre
By Staff Reporter

WEST Belfast Partnership Board have hosted a community consultation in light of a draft masterplan launched by Belfast City Council for the future development of what it terms as the Inner North West area of Belfast.

City Council earmarks this area as stretching from Castle Street and College Street in the west over to North Street and Donegall Street at the northern end. The area encapsulates well-known landmarks such as St Mary’s church, Bank Square, Castle Court and Smithfield and also much of the car parks in the North Street area.

The community consultation took place at Springvale Community Learning Centre where Council staff were invited along to make a presentation on proposals for the area – the gateway into West Belfast. The Partnership also organised a panel discussion, which included Ken Sterrett, Senior Lecturer in Planning & Urban Design at Queen’s University, as well as Mark Hackett and Ciarán Mackel, two local architects.

Speaking at the consultation, Geraldine McAteer, CEO of West Belfast Partnership Board said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that a great deal needs to be done to revitalize the Castle Street and North Street areas and their environs. Castle Street has been run down for a long time and there are buildings, which have slipped into dereliction over the years. Local community groups, businesses and councillors have campaigned for investment for some years now and some significant improvements have been made in and around Bank Square and there will be hundreds of students moving into new student accommodation in the King Street area over the next year or so.

There are a lot of very interesting proposals in this Masterplan that seek to bring more business, leisure and cultural activity into the area – and very significantly – more housing units and city centre living. Many questions were raised at our consultation around the need for making this area a distinctive destination in the city, having well designed open space, provision of social and affordable housing, regeneration of heritage buildings for small businesses and car-parking.

“People were interested in having an economic programme to accompany the masterplan which would invest in existing and new businesses, link local unemployed people to new jobs and careers and so on. We will be making our submission to City Council over the next few weeks.”

The masterplan seeks to create a new city centre mixed neighbourhood that incorporates a mix of uses, including residential, commercial, retail and leisure integrated through a strong public realm. Council plans emphasise that the Inner North West Masterplan takes into account the heritage of the area and historical urban grain and hopes the plans will reinstate the historically vibrant economy of the area and promote city centre living.
For information, there is an exhibition on the proposals in Central Library or download the Masterplan https://yoursay.belfastcity.gov.uk/

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