your ideas on building belfast back better
As a special project for the 2021 festival, we invited people to send us their top three proposals for change for publication on our website. We were delighted with the response as the public enthusiastically took up the challenge with over 300 ideas received in March 2021. The campaign also attracted lots of media coverage including BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster and Talkback (24 March) and blogs from Alan in Belfast & Slugger O’Toole featuring contributions from leading local hotelier Bill Wolsey and local activists.
In this project, the Imagine! Belfast festival examined how placemaking can promote thriving communities in Belfast as we look towards a post-pandemic recovery. Back in 2015, the festival ran an alternative manifesto campaign that collated policy ideas from audiences (including suggestions from Slugger O’Toole readers). We thought that because for many of us there has been a fundamental reappraisal of how we want to live as a result of the pandemic, it could be an opportune moment to consider what we would change to make Belfast better. As we grapple with the challenges of living in a pandemic and adapting to the volatility of a post-Brexit world, we felt there should be a strong case for embedding an inclusive and evidence-informed democratic culture at the heart of Northern Ireland policy eco-system, and for our political institutions to proactively engage with citizens about how to build a better society.
The following proposals were received during March 2021:
Idea One: Citizens should have the opportunity to have a direct say on how local resources are invested in their communities. Bring people together to generate and share ideas (like this process), work with those who can deliver and action these ideas to develop concrete proposals and then people vote for the investments and improvements they want to see happen in their local community or neighbourhood – Participatory Budgeting in action! Paris can do it with half a billion investment in public interest projects designed and decided by citizens in the last 5 years. Let’s think big! Why not here too?
Idea Two: More green spaces and pop up parks/parklets in the city centre, waterfront, titanic quarter and neighbourhood areas. Plant more trees, vertical and roof top gardens and wildflowers and create spaces for people to come together, sit, relax, connect. A city park at Giant’s Park – walking and cycling routes could be introduced now – similar to Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Idea Three: More bridges across the Lagan – opportunities to connect communities to Titanic Quarter e.g. Bridge across from Sailorstown/ City Quays to connect wider North Belfast area to Titanic Quarter. Extend the cycle scheme further into neighbourhoods across the city to give communities more choice over their transport options.
Idea One: Through art and colour, redesign not only the city but more importantly the mindset or general attitude of Belfast.
Idea Two: To give all of Belfast the sight of self-awareness and make it the happiest city in the world.
Idea Three: To offer all a new psychological and emotional path …to authentically feel good about ourselves…offer a revolutionary truth and a workable philosophy of living that will transform the individual and the world around them. I am writing a book/art project …changing you mind has never been made easier, it is a great psychological reset, because if you cannot change your thoughts you cannot change anything.
Idea One: Imagine building a neighbourhood in Belfast city, with permanently affordable, energy efficient homes, apartments or houses, rented or owner occupied, where residents have their own homes, yet also have use of extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, and a common house. Imagine this cohousing initiative where residents actively cooperate in the planning, design and construction of the project and in maintaining its shared resources when up and running; and where residents have one goal in mind: to create and be part of a vibrant, diverse and inter-generational community living in a safe, and mutually supportive environment.
Idea Two: Imagine Belfast city centre giving a priority to residential living, including cohousing, breathing life back into the commercial office and shopping wasteland it has become and creating a beating heart into the future.
Idea Three: Imagine the Belfast City Council proposing a “15-minute city” urban design approach, where everything a resident needs can be reached within 15 minutes by foot, bike or public transit, whatever area of the city they’re living in./span>
Idea One: Make the city much more cycle/public transport friendly – remove space for cars and make cycle paths that are safe to cycle on and link up the entire city.
Idea Two: Create a forest in the city. There are a lot of areas that are desolate – plant lots of trees in these areas.
Idea Three: Create a wildlife corridor from the Lagan Meadows to the city centre with greenery and bridges that it would be feasible for wildlife to travel on.
Idea One: To address the widespread vacancy and number of empty sites in the city centre, in addition to tackling the housing shortage, adopt an approach similar to Dublin by charging increased rates for empty buildings and sites that are suitable for housing. Belfast is a very good example of a Victorian city with buildings typically ranging in height from 4 to six stories. That height provides a fine textured urban fabric that makes for a human scale, allowing a visual connection from the street to the inhabitants of buildings, which is both liveable and sustainable.
Idea Two: Fit bicycle racks to the front of buses, like in Seattle, to allow people to mix exercise with public transport.
Idea Three: Repurpose empty buildings as recreation spaces. For example, Carlisle Memorial Church, which survives as little more than a shell, would make an excellent covered skatepark until such times as a more sustainable use is proposed. Skate ramps are temporary, reversible interventions and wet surfaces make it unsafe to skate – shelter is critical and large volumes are ideal.
Idea One: Better facilities to integrate skateboarding and other urban sports into civic spaces.
Idea Two: A bigger focus on green spaces, and cultural centres.
– legislation to be brought in to protect artists and the studios that they rent.
– giving artists long-term rental contracts.
Idea Three: Less hotels, and offices.
Idea One: Mental health post box idea, people who are not only struggling with mental health but with any sort of big issue in their life and they feel as if they can’t deal with anything, they can slip their information into the box with their email etc attached to seek for help etc.
Idea Two: More areas for youth to gather safely. Young people in Belfast tend to hang out in dangerous places and take part in anti-social behaviour. I feel that a up to date place where youth/ teens can meet up and enjoy themselves would be a brilliant idea to get kids and teens off the street and maybe combat underage drinking.
Idea Three: Ways to help promote Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. Create pictures which show peace. Hang both flags in specific locations. Things like this can maybe change people’s opinions of the other religion. Getting rid of sectarianism should be one of our top aims as it is still a big thing in youths and adults in today’s society.
Idea One: Ban anti homeless architecture.
Idea Two: More funding into mental health.
Idea Three: Free period products.
Idea One: Bike for hire in parks.
Idea Two: Cable car to Cavehill.
Idea Three: Inner city farm.
Idea One: The Belfast Walking Marathon This is a project that will bring Belfast together as a city, physically and emotionally. The Belfast Walking Marathon will be a route that winds its way throughout the city. It is 26 points set out on a route that travels throughout the city limits. Each point on the route is a mile apart. The stopping points are areas of local beauty, parks, historic pubs and famous cafes. The route map that will be available online, in paper format, and also in signage. An official event, when inhabitants will walk the route, will happen four times a year to mark the changing of the seasons.
Idea Two: Belfast Meeting Points Belfast is a social city, so let’s create more place for us to be social in, and more times in the day to be social. At various points across the city, meeting points will be created for use at lunch time, and for after work meet-ups. These meeting points provide large seated areas at places of beauty, such as parks or areas along the river. The meeting points will have food and sometimes alcohol provided by local business. Lunch time in Belfast will officially become two hours and office staff will be encouraged to have their lunch at the meeting points in the city. Meeting points will have themes, some will be music, some will have talks and discussions, others will have art.
Idea Three: Make Belfast Beautiful project The make Belfast Beautiful projects is for those who want to improve the aesthetic in the city, and make the messy corners more attractive for the inhabitants but also for those who are visiting the city. The make Belfast Beautiful project would set up committees for specific areas, those areas would decide on a regeneration project such as – making a wasteland beautiful, tidying up a stretch of water on the Lagan, or redeveloping an area of the forest. A group would work on the beauty project and then when it was completed there would be an unveiling and a party.
Idea One: City Centre play parks There needs to be more play parks incorporated into the city centre, so people have more reasons to come and enjoy the city. In particular I would like to have a play park in the grounds of the City Hall. The parks would have various themes and one of them would be sculptural play parks. These are artistic sculptures which can also be used for play. They encourage the idea that art is beautiful but also can be practical. The parks would encourage people to come to the city centre not just for shopping but also to have fun and to play in the city centre.
Idea Two: Belfast’s Wintergarden This idea is based on the Sheffield Wintergarden, Belfast’s wintergarden will be a temperate glass house, housing rare plants but also retail units, a gallery and exhibition spaces. It will provide an oasis in the middle of the society, a social area that provides a dry place to meet people and have a good time in a city that sometimes can be rainy.
Idea Three: Rewilding the city This idea is about making our city a city of plants. We need to take away hard landscaping around areas such as the Waterfront hall so that they have urban greenery. We need to plant more trees and shrubs. There needs to be more vertical forests and roof gardens on existing buildings which will soften the urban landscape but which will also be a means of carbon dioxide capture, as well as producing oxygen.
Idea One: Redevelop canals.
Idea Two: Develop a marina with atmosphere and facilities.
Idea Three: More cafes and restaurants that are not fast food. Poor choice of fresh tasty food in city centre.
Idea One: Following on from the idea of symbolic protection wrapping yourself in the flag “Ce n’est pas un gilet pare-balles” I propose a series of shelters made from eyelets and cable ties. a delineated chalk out line would configure the space. Could be an overhanging semi circle no broader than shoulders or long rectangles or a suspended circle Pencil and paper will be near to hand to record pondered thoughts and observations from underneath the sculptured “shelters” What of the past? What of the future? What of the now? The present. Writings and drawings would be recorded (photographed and emailed) The shelters would then be dismantled and reassembled in response to the responses.
Idea Two: A communal sculpture made of eyelets and cable ties …we’d need a lot. people given the materials to make whatever they wish with the idea that it would be used in one giant sculpture. This could be a yearly event with more and more eyelets added each year ideally a place could be found for it to remain safely in situ to be changed every year ay the event. The eyelets would be allowed to weather and gain patina then be broken down to be reconfigured. The weathering (cable ties marks) would add further layering as each year the past cable ties is removed and it is clipped to another different eyelet.
Idea Three: I’d like to run flash art sales using vernacular overlooked spaces we have a profusion of. Size limited. Artworks …Price Limited. Space Limited. The venues locality released every 2 hrs through day. artists would be there until they have no work to sell (I suggest four pieces max but open to artists who sign up) i imagine quick dispersal from the socially distanced vernacular spaces rules could discussed and voted on could perhaps base on average artist earnings per hour? Keep it egalitarian.
Idea One: Social housing in the heart of the city centre. There is very little residential accommodation in Belfast’s City Centre yet there are some many buildings with empty upper storeys. Belfast would be transformed, and social need met if these spaces could be used for social housing thus creating a new inner city community.
Idea Two: Reuse/Repair centres in the four compass point areas in Belfast. Our society is swamped with wasted and wasteful material objects – people do not know what to do with items they no longer need and where to get items repaired for reuse. Centres should be set up to encourage more sustainable living by teaching skills of repair/maintenance and a place where items can be repaired – there is nowhere in Belfast where computer and IT equipment can be donated for refurbishment at the same time as there is a real need for these resources in poorer communities. This is true not just for computers but for virtually all manufactured goods.
Idea Three: Car pooling – set up a scheme that would bring car pool to every street in Belfast. The long term goal would be to make Belfast first and foremost a city for bicycles, and public transport – this should be free and electric. Private car ownership should be phased out.
Idea One: Big Belfast Bubble Bash. Bubbles are a thing of fragile beauty. When this is all over, we need a new day of celebration. A day of fun and frivolity. A new tradition that belongs to us all. Celebrating our resilience and fragility. To remember our “bubbles” – those who held us together during difficult times. A day bursting with exuberance. There will be lots of bubbles. Zorbing and foam parties. Bubble gum bubble-art- tea and -baths. Bubble cannons, bubble football. Racing up the Lagan in bubbles. We will share our thought bubbles. This becomes an annual celebration, with bubbly!
Idea Two: Sound is important. Cities should bustle, hum and buzz. In the same way that planners make decisions about how a city looks, they should think about how it sounds. The democratic burble of community noise has been drowned out by buskers and preachers with cheap battery-powered speakers, ‘Yeeeeeows’ from bar-bikes, more speakers on the outside of businesses and of course traffic. Regulation has failed to keep pace with the accessibility of amplification. I want a city centre where we connect and not just consume, where everyone’s voices become a choir of society not a series of amplified solos.
Idea Three: Why is it so wrong to loiter? Not doing anything in particular isn’t a threat. It’s just not commercial. Our city centre should simply be a great place to hang out, relax. That’s what draws people in and keeps them there. But it doesn’t need to be packaged up and branded as an ‘experience’. What would the city feel like if everywhere selling us something were closed and every public space – both inside and outside – were free and open to everyone? Are we brave enough to find out what that looks like? Maybe even just for one day?
neil p mccann
Idea One: Museum of the Imagination. This is a space where we can continue this process of creating and sharing ideas. It would have lots of Graphics, with the proposals for various changes in our city and the society large, 3 D images, Virtual Presentations that visitors can experience, scale models, inspiring graphics. there will be a music area for simply listening to sounds from many places including Belfast and software to allow composition in situ. A cafe will encourage visitors to mix with strangers, less isolation and coming together event making new friends. Above all thinking of and, imagining the future wondering how things might be. What will be our lives in times ahead and our children’s lives?
Idea Two: Simply, a City Art Gallery to celebrate all that is visual in Belfast, and from all the islands of Western European and Scandinavia and from all parts of the world. From here we are reflected out and draw into ourselves the great works of art in World History and from our contemporary world, from the city, the hinterland, the island of Ireland, Britain and the islands of our own peripheries.
Idea Three: And a gesture to the past, to the future and to fuel measures to encourage compliance with Earth care into the years ahead. Back Again to the Future but this time for good! A local, publicly owned Model NI DeLorean production, highly efficient, hydrogen powered and some electric versions, but with a drop roof for those lazy hazy summer drives into the Glens or Mournes. A strictly limited, humorous version of the classic, all vehicles to be held in public ownership subsidised for rental by all and everyone, duly licensed of course.
Idea One: Get the basics right: service delivery and regulation; for example, clean streets, accessible libraries and leisure centres, safe parks, control anti-social behaviour in public spaces, take action against rogue private sector landlords. Make sure officials are easy to contact and responsive.
Idea Two: The worst damage Covid could do to us as a society is that we get too used to our own company. Focus on promoting activities to get people out of their homes as soon as lockdown is over. Festivals, adult education, markets, concerts, exhibitions and so on to help face to face social interaction start again.
Idea Three: (for the whole of NI) Gradually increase entitlement to free public transport, starting with under 25s, until it’s free for everyone.
Idea One: Plant more trees, have more parks, community allotments and green spaces.
Idea Two: Convert disused buildings into homeless shelters.
Idea Three: More funding into mental health eg. have drop in centres that can give well-being and mental health advice.
Idea One: Digital Belfast Have a centralised app/website for Belfast businesses as it is not viable for smaller companies to compete with larger companies with individual apps, this could include booking services, shopping, parking, public transport system or tickets for Belfast based events. This is currently implemented in cities such as Sparks Nevada, Calgary Canada and Philadelphia. This would especially be useful for tourists visiting the city.
Idea Two: Green Belfast Implement the citytree from Green City Solutions, this is a moss culture technology which removes the pollution from our city streets, but it is implemented in a space which is 100 times smaller than planting the necessary number of trees.
Idea Three: Transport Belfast Improve the current system of Belfast’s streets to be less car focused this would need a mixture of improvements, but these could include (but are not limited by: – Improving public transport links into Belfast city centre from the outskirts – Park and ride schemes to allow people from outside of Belfast to travel without needing the car – Making the city centre public transport (and blue badge) only – Having cycle lanes separate to the main roads – Having a ring road around Belfast so people are not forced to drive through congested streets.
Idea One: Solar Light Attraction Across The City Every Night: I would like to integrate the whole city using a solar light show to come alive at night, every night and illuminate every part of the city to encourage all cultures and religions to complete the light tour around their city mixing and enjoying the light show whilst feeling comfortable and safe. A fun and exciting light show will not only make the whole city bright and vibrant and colourful but also educate the young about the power of solar while encouraging integration.
Idea Two: A Fully Integrated and Inclusive Education System: I would love to see our future leaders – our children grow up and educated within a fully integrated and inclusive education system. Time for a new Belfast Community Education System – integrating all the current school buildings under one uniform and one title, encouraging all our children to feel part of something great, together learning and playing sports with access to the best resources and end segregation forever.
Idea Three: Passenger Ferry Terminal Ports for travel across Belfast Lough and further stops along the coast to help reduce traffic coming in and out of Belfast: Have ferry ports and links from Carrickfergus across to Bangor and all along the coast the whole way into Belfast. Other great cities – New York, Hong Kong, Venice etc local commuters and tourists have ferry options to travel around the city and to nearby towns and cities.
elaine belfast fan
Idea One: Belfast needs a zero tolerance policy on dog fouling. Continuously looking down to avoid dog dirt makes it impossible to enjoy Belfast’s many lovely walkways! Fines alone are not enough: Belfast needs to develop a well-publicised, well maintained system for public reporting of dog dirt on paths. Belfast should provide the means to assist prompt action by anyone wishing to remove dog dirt eg. extensive provision of safe- to-use, self-help equipment; and more council staff to ensure that reported dog dirt has been removed. Dog dirt is a dangerous health hazard which people unwittingly carry home on their shoes.
Idea Two: Plant more native trees and shrubs in the ground ( not in planters) and allow more areas of naturally flowering plants (weeds to some ) to grow as they are lovely to see and all help to purify the air.
Idea Three: Have more murals and art work (eg. the artwork in the Cathedral Quarter) to reflect the different histories of the various parts of Belfast . This could replace existing graffiti that can create a dreary, run down atmosphere. Select designated sites (eg. the cathedral quarter) away from busy shopping areas, for visitors wishing to experience particular aspects of NI’s culture such as preacher , singers, musicians etc.
Idea One: Build dedicated cycle lanes on all main routes into the city centre. Cycle lanes to be physically separated from motorised traffic. Provide more bike racks in the city centre. Encourage use of public transport and cycling and reduce the reliance on cars.
Idea Two: Plant, plant, plant! Plant trees, create urban meadows on waste ground, incentivise owners to plant roof gardens.
Idea Three: Cable car to cave hill with a restaurant and luge track (copy the format from Queenstown New Zealand).
Idea One: More city centre green spaces: Places that are dug out not just big planters. Places for large native trees, shrubs and bushes. Not delicate flowers that need lots of care and replaced each year. Include seating that is well thought out, comfortable and not placed in a silly way, like facing the road. Aim for a huge number of trees to improve air quality and climate change.
Idea Two: Dog fouling is a big issue: If better control and is not manageable, then have more cleaning crews in place. Have an email address to report fouled pathways, where photos can be sent. Not a phone number where no one answers and takes loads of time to get through.
Idea Three: Have a make Belfast beautiful day – a city wide pick up litter day where people/schools/businesses are encouraged to go out and collect litter. Make it a celebration at the end of the day, prizes etc.
3ideas for better Belfast
Idea One: Pedestrianise the city centre, like Glasgow. Also better placed picnic tables at nature spots, such as around Lagan country park. With well thought out placement of the tables, that actually face the views. More waste bins there too.
Idea Two: Ban preachers, of any denomination. It gives a bad impression of Belfast, is noise pollution and provides a stressful environment when you are trying to shop. I avoid shops where preachers are, plus they scare some young children.
Idea Three: An online Belfast directory website, that is well organised and updated. For local produce, organic farm produce, local services and local events, NO big retail on it. Perhaps allows people to leave reviews.
Idea One: The marina by the Titanic Museum should be a vibrant outdoor promenade with cafes, wine bars, pubs, boutiques, an outdoor market, etc. This city wastes so many of its beautiful outdoor spaces!
Idea Two: If the above was accomplished, the marina could then host short-term houseboat rentals.
Idea Three: For the love of all things holy, tax the hell out of the landlords in the Holylands until they are forced to sell, and then clean up that area. It could be gorgeous, affordable, family-friendly housing.
Idea One: It was Chris Patten who correctly observed while a direct rule minister that we had turned our back on our river. While much has been achieved since to shift the centre of gravity of the city towards the Lagan, more is possible. Specifically, and given that the Lagan once flowed into High Street, why not bring the river back to the city centre?
Idea Two: Secondly, if the city centre is to survive, it must offer more to attract people to live work and recreate. I’m sure I’m not alone in highlighting the need to pedestrianise, develop more green space and in particular provide performance and family friendly play areas. You can see the success of these initiatives including the reinstatement of a major waterway, in Brussels where I lived and worked for some time.
Idea One: Network of digital free standing high resolution screens to provide 24/7 info relative to daily life and providing a platform for all types of images from art works to event information. Screens to be linked via the Internet to a central data base allowing interactivity between communities to encourage interchange of ideas and future cooperation.
Idea Two: Encourage the introduction of technology as experienced in other Cities, that brightens and creates a dynamic to encourage the public come in to the City centre as a positive experience rather than bland empty shop fascia’s. Window display competitions! Use empty spaces to create interesting ever changing experiences.
Idea Three: Have a constant dialogue with young and old to get them involved and create a feeling of belonging This could be linked via idea 1. Interactive communication through innovation.
Idea One: Reduce pollution and improve traffic flow, by connecting traffic lights, so phasing of green lights occurs when cars obey the speed limit and allows public transport priority..
Idea Two: Free WiFi for all and subsidised digital devices & training for deprived children to address social inequality and digital poverty
Idea Three: More community spaces for secular society to come together for community projects. Communal gardens, exercise, child stay & play, languages, arts, repair shops to combat loneliness and cross-generational inclusion.
Idea One: Cherish historic buildings, don’t knock them down. In Belfast there’s a terrible desire to rid ourselves of beautiful old buildings and replace them with new, often unattractive structures – either because they make someone money, or it’s cheaper to demolish them. We’re losing many of the best bits of our history this way. Think of the whole area from the Mater, through Carlisle Circus, Clifton St, Donegall St down to St Anne’s, and Royal Avenue. What’s happening to it is a tragedy.
Idea Two: Pedestrianise the city centre, banish car parking and improve public transport. Let’s reclaim the streets from the tyranny of the car. Even with Northern Irish weather, Belfast should be a city for walking and cycling.
Idea Three: A High Line for Belfast? New York, Paris, and other cities have introduced amazing gardens along disused rail lines and industrialised areas. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to bring plants and gardens into Belfast in this way?
Idea One: The creation of community cafes which sell healthy and reasonably priced food. These cafes could pay subsidised rent in return for using profits to invest in teaching skills to people in the community. A promotion of vegetarian and locally sourced food most days of the week.
Idea Two: Make the city centre pedestrianised and convert some roads to cycling only to create a link to the north/west/south/east areas of the city.
Idea Three: Create more green areas or squares which have social events. Make some of these places areas free from WIFI to promote pauses/breaks from the online world.
Idea One: Transform the empty high street shops into shared spaces for older peoples living, community wellbeing spaces, co-operatives. Post pandemic the high street as we know it is crumbling. We need to reimagine these spaces and create a new template that supports society to heal and thrive after the pandemic and the negative effects of capitalism.
Idea Two: Mental health and wellbeing spaces; pre pandemic Northern Ireland was in a mental health crisis with highest suicide rates in UK. Numbers have grown exponentially since Covid. I believe we need mental health spaces like a separate mental health A and E dedicated to wellbeing, with holistic solutions eg. counselling, being in nature, acupuncture. Not simply going to go and receiving medication as a temporary solution.
Idea Three: Affordable housing; post Covid people’s jobs are not secure and many people are in a precarious position with accessing rent and mortgages. Rent is hugely inaccessible while mortgages can be manageable and makes better use of people’s money. Shouldn’t everyone be allowed to pay into a manageable mortgage opposed to extortionate amounts of rent. Rent/mortgages need to be scrapped and a new strategy needs to be implemented. Maybe every generation receives a lump sum of money to access property ladder and landlords need to have rent control limits.
Idea One: Redevelop canals.
Idea Two: Develop a marina with atmosphere and facilities.
Idea Three: More cafés and restaurants that are not fast food. Poor choice of fresh tasty food in city centre.
Idea One: How we do create our capital city as a place where a mass exodus isn’t the only option for those who do not want to be around the stress and potential for violence around Marching Season and other trigger points in the year representing both cultural groups. Given Covid will our city streets be empty during the Summer months? A greener, more peaceful and respectful place has to be a priority. Bring in culture and art to the centre. Reconciliation to the fore. Soften our city – treasure our natural heritage and historic built environments. Less build more and enhance the feeling and interaction in the city where people can feel safe at all times throughout the year.
Idea Two: More gardens, flowers, trees and on street dining and covered spaces where we can eat and dine safely. This is the thing I think many people love about holidays abroad. Dining and enjoying time with friends and family outdoors.
Idea Three: More music on the streets. Buskers are great but I mean organised music in little district pop up spots all over the city. Good for well-being and speaks to the quietness of the spirit/ soul/ self whatever people choose to call it. Music changes and enhances mood. Let’s soften our city by offering music throughout the year in key spots as an ongoing thing.
Idea One: Pedestrianise where possible, particularly to the front and sides of City Hall and Donegall Place. The area in front and around one of our most beautiful buildings should be a public space used for regular events. Some of our arterial roots could also become one way allowing for pedestrianisation in these corridors; along the Ormeau for example.
Idea Two: Convert the Assembly rooms, one of the most historic buildings in Belfast into “A Little Museum of Belfast”, similar to what has been created beside Saint Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Currently the plans are to create yet another hotel in this building, despite the fact that we have more than enough hotels.
Idea Three: Utilise the river better by creating an affordable “learn how to sail” offering behind the Waterfront Hall. This could be a commercial operation but also with a social conscience allowing opportunities for children from financially challenged backgrounds to have an opportunity that they might otherwise not be able to afford. There is a similar scheme in Boston which has been highly successful.
Idea One: Pedestrianise the entire city. Tiny streets with potluck parking work for very few people. The roads are congested, as are the footpaths. Let people walk and cycle, this would reinvigorate the city, room for seating, trees, stalls, buskers, art etc. No fumes, just culture and atmosphere. Sirocco works is just one of the areas that would make a perfect carpark, but if public transport was improved this wouldn’t even be a prerequisite.
Idea Two: Stop the monopoly on alcohol. Bring in laws that encourage craft breweries and allow small businesses to get into the bars. This would encourage independent beer culture, bringing people together, allowing for festivals and tourism. Big brewery contracts mean an embargo on small brewers even getting a look in.
Idea Three: Instead of boarding up windows, refurbish shop fronts and give small businesses a limited-time, low price contract to operate. Give small businesses a lift by allowing access to otherwise vacant buildings.
Idea One: Bring small niche non-retail businesses out of business parks and onto the street… Think of all those b & w sepia photos with store fronts of businesses visible and out front… Lower the rates and bring unique but non retail crafts back on to the street, such as my small product design business, wood working, electronics, and other crafts. It’s great to nosey as for passers by, it promotes practical skills and crafts, run by niche markets and startups!!
Idea Two: Charge full rates for empty retail units. Empty units are not bank accounts for fat cats!!!!!!!
Idea Three: Cycling provision; is it get better TBH. but as someone mention this morning, on the BBC NI radio, I wouldn’t let an 8 year old out alone on those cycle lanes. Yet… Provide cargo bikes to hire by the hour alongside the existing Belfast bikes, so people could do their shopping/ move goods. I’m an avid cyclist (also cycling product designer) using cargo bikes to do the nursery run/ school run for 4 years.
Idea One: Reimagine older/historical buildings. Too many buildings in the city centre have been demolished losing much of Belfast history. New buildings are always needed but can sit beside what has been Belfast’s heart.
Idea Two: Green spaces. Trees and green spaces included in city planning help to soften the harshness of buildings. Places to sit and rest in the midst of shopping. Places to take time out of work and have lunch/ coffee. Places to simply soak in the beauty of place.
Idea Three: Creative hub. Artists have been pushed out of the city centre due to high rents. Belfast has a world leading Art College with graduates in the past setting up in studios around Belfast City Centre. Nowadays they have been pushed out due to high rents in old buildings. Keep our creative people in the hub of the city as they have so much to offer in terms of culture and innovation.
Idea One: Bring the garden into town. Green up Belfast! To include trees, shrubs perennials and annuals. Swaths of grasses and prairie plantings could cheer up temporary vacant spaces or traffic islands. Provide protected structures – greenhouses/ conservatories… even across roads and pathways that can be walked/cycled/driven through. Build a 2 storey glasshouse on to the city hall and fill with huge tropical plantings… using hardier specimens to spill out along the pavements to continue the theme.
Idea Two: Bring museums into town… focus on interactivity for children AND adults. Make a history trail with installations and artefacts and characters appropriate to their position in town. Consider food and drink available to fit the theme and period.
Idea Three: Bring art and creativity into town. Use empty spaces as permanent and temporary galleries. Provide spaces and materials inside and outside for free expression by children and adults. Including stone, clay, wood. Large scale canvases paint and brushes.
Idea One: Covering squares & other public spaces for outdoor arts and music & dance performances. Attractive covered areas, with power points etc for musicians/artists to perform safely. Put ideas for covered area designs out for consultation linked with local history, businesses and engage with key arts & music organizations to assess their performance needs.
Idea Two: Linked with the above – Ensure the public also have comfortable spaces to listen, watch and engage in such performances. Develop activities and programmes of outdoor performances to Belfast city of Music / culture and also local business development needs – create opportunities for business sponsorship and local enterprise linked with arts and music networks. Engage young people in performing arts development ideas via local schools, colleges & universities.
Idea Three: Linked with the above – Create extended, accessible pedestrian areas with enhancing and encouraging use of ‘greener spaces’ through tree planting etc. Commission programmes of street art or opportunities for local artists to exhibit and promote their creative work in a safe & secure way. These ideas need to be supported with strong City Council leadership and a culture which enables bars and restaurants etc to have people seated outside, serve drinks including alcoholic drinks outside their premises eg on covered street terraces etc. Belfast is a great city and has so much going for it – not least all the very talented artists and performers! However, to be an even more vibrant, attractive European city and fun destination, Belfast also really needs a change of mindset – to come into the 21st Century – it would greatly help to find ways of engaging younger visionaries in this reimagining work.
Idea One: Turn empty shops in the city centre into secure bicycle parks with showers and changing facilities. They could be manned by bike mechanics that could do bike maintenance while you’re at work.
Idea Two: ‘Belfast Respire’ – shutting the streets of Belfast on Sunday mornings and making them a playground for healthy activity. This is inspired by ‘Paris Respire’ which creates areas that are closed to cars on Sundays enabling everyone to enjoy traffic-free and noise-free streets.
Idea Three: With a hybrid model of work being likely in the future, we will all spend more of our time based from our homes but that comes with challenges such as isolation, noise and interruption. Maybe we can reimagine local spaces, both public and private, that might lie empty during the day and equip them to be hubs for business, innovation and networking.
Idea One: Bring back the Farset.
Idea Two: Pedestrianise the city centre.
Idea Three: More trees
Idea One: There should be a strategy to not only connect with all aspects our Commercial, industrial and cultural history but also bring it to life. One idea would be to create a central hub building for Museums in the city centre to connect the Ulster, Folk & Transport Museums as well as regional visitor centres and specialist centres (e.g. Historic Buildings Section of Department for Communities, Belfast Harp Society, etc.); it could also identify unused retail space to showcase local exhibits and works. In addition, there could be costumed character re-enactments (such as CS Lewis, Buck Alec, Lord Kelvin, Thomas Andrews).
Idea Two: Unlock the potential of our forgotten architecture by revitalising some of the urban alleys where buildings have turned their backs on street life. For example, Franklin Street Place and McCavana’s Place close to the City Hall could be transformed into something more welcoming. Such change would require careful planning to ensure safety and protection from vandalism and unwanted intrusion. Perhaps this could be assisted by input from Belfast City Council Parks if public gate access control is required. One example of what can emerge is Commercial Court which extends the activity of the local hostelries onto the street.
Idea Three: Develop the University Campus presence and culture in Belfast. One development could be to create a Campus for a Belfast-based Faculty of the Open University – perhaps a research institution specialising in FinTech and Cyber Security – This might attract more overseas students and there is already an Open University administrative presence in the City centre. A further development of Campus Culture could be to establish a Campus for the University of the 3rd Age which would bring leisure and learning to residents of an older generation and encourage them connect more with the inner-city area.
Idea One: Donegall Sq. West / Donegall Place / Castle Place pedestrianised completely with on street & cafes, cycling areas, greenery and soft landscaping.
Idea Two: Remember that we are more than the Titanic. We were the investors if the pneumatic tyre, largest ropeworks in Europe, linen, propellers, the Shorts seaplanes etc.
Idea Three: Connect the Laganside area to the city centre, making it a much easier and attractive to visit.
Idea One: Install tram lines on north south east west routes similar to the ones in Dublin.
Idea Two: Create more proper segregated cycle lanes. We don’t really have any. See Dublin for how this can be achieved.
Idea Three: Get rid of the ugly black tar paving that makes Belfast so shabby and replace them with proper paving (see Dublin for how this is done).
Idea One: Get rid of acres of desolate inner car parking – stop demolishing our heritage to make even more.
Idea Two: Create zone initiatives like they have in Dublin – see The Liberties as an example of how this can be achieved.
Idea Three: Create a new signature museum of international art – for benefits – see Guggenheim effect in places like Bilbao.
Idea One: Development of North Belfast as the nature quarter. Develop Belfast Castle as a central hub to regeneration and celebration of the natural world. Floral Hall In the grounds of Belfast zoo as a venue that promotes the arts weekly markets of local produce.Develop the Belfast Zoo as an area to try outdoor activities allotments and site to encourage health and wellbeing.
Idea Two: Develop Belfast as city of music encourage music and the arts. Celebrate what unites us.
Idea(s) One: Pedestrianisation in the city centre. Sharing of the roads and footpaths – consideration for all road users.
Idea(s) Two: Car free city centre at the weekends. More markets and stalls on the street. Street food. Street entertainment-give our talented youngsters a stage on the street. Re-use the bandstand near Victoria Square.
Idea(s) Three: Preserve old architecture. More tours explaining our heritage. Flower stalls. Parklets. Outdoor eating/drinking space. More open minds from our political class.
Idea One: I believe in 1912, you could board a train in Ballycastle and you could travel to almost every county in Ireland. We can’t even get a train from Glenavy to Belfast (@ 12 miles) Sadly, we’ve gone backwards!!
Idea Two: Our weather dictates a lot so more ice rinks, indoor amenities, snooker tables, pool tables, Roller discos. These are for every age and family orientated too. We’ve certainly produced great snooker players, why not build on these.
Idea Three: Less shopping malls. More open air, sporadically placed shelters, for al fresco eating. Sit on a bench with a sandwich and get soaked. We have to build our weather into some ideas I guess.
Idea One: A more accessible city for people with disabilities. I believe that Belfast should be an autism friendly city, with training provided to retail, security and transport staff. Mirroring the work carried out in Newcastle, Co. Down.
Idea Two: More green spaces in the inner city for families and friends socialise and play. This is popular in other European Cities where there’s usually a children’s playground on every block.
Idea Three: More pedestrianised areas such as Royal Avenue, at the moment it feels like the city is cut in half by a bus corridor running up and down this road. We should be encouraging more people to come in and enjoy the city as a day out, with more outdoor eating spaces in this area.
Idea One: Tourists I spoke with a few years back thought the City Hall was lovely, ‘pity it was located in a bus park’. Pedestrianise Donegall Sq. West and use it for outside seating for the cafes and bars in the area and small outdoor concerts. The regular Continental Markets, or the likes, could be relocated there to free up the front of the City Hall and avoid having to re-turf the grounds two or three times per year.
Idea Two: The main arterial routes into the city should have a strict and heavily policed ‘no parking – no stopping’ policy, going inwards between 7:30am and 12:30pm and outwards between 13:30pm and 19:00pm. The opposite side of the road should have time limited parking. This would make bus and bicycle travel quicker and more attractive.
Idea Three: Belfast City Council need to actively promote St George’s Market as a seven day per week venue, encouraging local food and craft producers. There is a beautiful building at Clarendon Dock which would make a great market venue as well.
Idea One: I think we should remove all buses and taxis from the city centre zone and green up the pedestrian areas with planting and flower schemes. Think of the clean air and no traffic congestion plus it would be safer too also create a proper user friendly cycle infrastructure.
Idea Two: I’d love to see a regular pop-up arts & craft books records or antiques style market on a Saturday or Sunday morning in the cathedral quarter with some street theatre or music performances. St George’s is great but too packed.
Idea Three: Lobby the council to stop selling off historic buildings or giving planning permission to developers with no vision other than ££. Belfast is losing its unique character to steel & glass offices or shopping centres. We should preserve what we have or rebuild in a similar style.
Idea One: Free public transport (Luxembourg has done this), and better joined-up linkages with satellite areas. Train service to Lisburn, for example, is good, but getting to Lisburn or Moira train station is a nightmare! Ditto getting to the Colin glider hub.
Idea Two: More green spaces and parks. Encourage people to walk and take more steps eg. at lunchtime, but there is nowhere suitable near the city centre.
Idea Three: Derelict buildings are an eyesore, but many have the potential to be wonderful – do them up, turn them into affordable housing, or creative spaces for dance, music, exhibitions.
Idea One: Establish an art gallery in the centre of Belfast, repurposing an old iconic building close to the City Hall. The work of local artists (past and present) should be showcased.
Idea Two: Celebrate Belfast’s maritime history by substantially increasing the number of ship exhibits in the Belfast Harbour area, ie. over and above the existing Nomadic and HMS Caroline exhibits.
Idea Three: Introduce boat tours of Belfast Harbour and Belfast Lough, with stop-off points at say Carrickfergus, Whitehead, Donaghadee, Bangor, Holywood and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. A continuous loop is envisaged.
Idea One: Proposal for a Museum in the City, perhaps using the Tesco site in Castle Place, drawing on the collections of the Ulster Museum or from other public collections, which would make the artwork and artifacts accessible to a wider audience, both residents of the city as well as tourists and would be another attraction in the city centre which is not retail.
Idea Two: Gallery of Modern Art and Design in the city centre with a permanent collection as well as changing exhibitions.
Idea Three: Marketplace of makers to celebrate craft and design created in Ulster – potters, textile artists, jewellers etc – encourage the sale of craft as well as exhibitions of work.
Idea One: Belfast should have public drinking fountains for drinking water and/or refilling a water bottle. It would help both locals and tourists stay hydrated and cut down on plastic water bottles being littered.
Idea Two: Belfast city centre should be more accessible and friendly to people with autism. Something that would make a big difference would be training employees that work as security or customer service (for example) in autism awareness.
Idea Three: A website or newspaper that only advertises events, groups, charity fundraisers etc. in Belfast so locals can know what’s happening and get involved. An important factor would be making the events for all ages and to advertise smaller events as well as events that are already largely advertised.
Idea(s) One: More green space and plants and trees in Belfast city and surrounding areas. A speaker’s corner in the city centre. Light bulbs at night thoughout city from post to post and in trees. Bring back big wheel.
Idea(s) Two: More outside drinking and street food. Pop up urinals. One night a week completely free parking. Be more bike friendly.
Idea(s) Three: Summer outdoor Ulster Orchestra practice sessions. Make part of the peace walls transparent so people can see each other. You can do this with think plastic or reinforced glass. Create a Belfast movie tour namely a walking tours of famous places that were in movies etc. Connect all the places in the world called Belfast via interactive ‘whata bout ye’ wave.
Idea One: More designated areas for outdoor/ covered performances eg. buskers, street performers with open, communal relaxed seating and picnic areas. More public toilets.
Idea Two: Permanent food market. On street water taps to refill water bottles (as in France, Italy).
Idea Three: Family friendly cycle paths. Indoor ninja warrior course for kids (as requested by Emily, age 8)
Idea One: Install a number of aire de service points for motorhomes in Stranmillis roundabout carpark. This area is already unofficially used and would be perfect due to its safe and convenient location to city centre/towpath/local parks/river/cycle lanes/ theatre/ bars and restaurants. This would encourage motorhomes coming off the boat in Belfast to stay in and explore the city.
Idea Two: Campsite/caravan site at Giants Park. City seriously missing an opportunity to capture these potential tourists coming off the boat and heading elsewhere because we don’t have such a facility.
Idea One: Belfast is one of the most congested cities in Europe. Create safe and connected cycling networks so you can enable more people to cycle.
Idea Two: Plant more trees in the city and improve ‘place-making’, restricting cars and make low traffic neighbourhoods. More free creative playgrounds for children, and places where people can connect with nature.
Idea Three: The city should accelerate its adoption of ‘smart city’ practices – using data to make informed decisions, and using the limited resources we have wisely. SME’s should be given opportunity to partner with the city on implementing projects related to this.
Idea One: Developing a community urban farm, a space where we can demonstrate sustainable farming, providing food for the local community, a space where people can come and learn about where their food comes from as well as lending a hand in growing and harvesting the food.
Idea Two: Build an electric bike network in the city – read about this being launched in Dublin.
Idea Three: Providing and installing water butt system in every household across the city which wants one to collect rainwater to recycle to water plants, flowers, wash cars etc.
Idea One: Pedestrianise Donegall Place, and Donegall Square North. Make the area a centrepiece public plaza, with greenery, space for entertainers, fountains etc.
Idea Two: Change regulation / legislation to enable a pavement cafe culture. Bring people out onto the streets from bars and restaurants. Continental cities do this as part of normal city living …so should we.
Idea Three: Build a proper Museum of Industry. Titanic Belfast is great, but we have so much more to showcase. Yes, H&W would be a big part, but what about the Ropeworks, Shorts, Mackies, QUB design in engines for Jaguar and others, and Ferguson… it should be a story of NI industry from the industrial revolution to today. Look at the part we have played in offshore windfarms, or composite technology for aerospace. Or the many QUB start-ups. We’ve a great story to tell.
Idea One: Establish a cycle greenway through greater west Belfast which will enable commuter /leisure cycling activities and promote the history /heritage of this part of the city whilst also connecting with the centre therefore all areas of the city. Make it as user friendly as possible future proof it so it is sustainable.
Idea Two: Promote our parks and greens paces as areas of education and leisure activities. Tie our schools in with using the outdoors as a resource to integrate with rather than a hindrance because of inclement weather. Make our parks and open spaces across the city something that tourists actually come to Belfast for.
Idea Three: Use our most historical of assets, The River Lagan as a tourism, educational and tourist attraction. Utilise the scenic value and the aesthetic value of the greater lagan Valley to boost not only tourism but local, Belfast stay cation tourism. Install a camping site, camping pods in Lady Dixon or Barnett’s or Cavehill to boost tourism.
Idea One: Solar Light attraction across the city every night: I would like to integrate the whole city using a solar light show to come alive at night, every night and illuminate every part of the city to encourage all cultures and religions to complete the light tour around their city mixing and enjoying the light show whilst feeling comfortable and safe. A fun and exciting light show will not only make the whole city bright and vibrant and colourful but also educate the young about the power of solar while encouraging integration.
Idea Two: A Fully Integrated and Inclusive Education System: I would love to see our future leaders – our children grow up and educated within a fully integrated and inclusive education system. Time for a new Belfast Community Education System – integrating all the current school buildings under one uniform and one title, encouraging all our children to feel part of something great, together learning and playing sports with access to the best resources and end segregation forever.
Idea Three: Passenger Ferry Terminal Ports for travel across Belfast Lough and further stops along the coast to help reduce traffic coming in and out of Belfast. Have ferry ports and links from Carrickfergus across to Bangor and all along the coast the whole way into Belfast. Other great cities – New York, Hong Kong, Venice etc. local commuters and tourists have ferry options to travel around the city and to nearby towns and cities.
Idea One: You know the copper domes of the city hall and the Scottish Provident Building, could we have more of these. I believe continuity is important. Both as link to our past and built heritage and as visual continuity across our beautiful city.
Idea Two: Can we make our city centre greener with green space – large and small? Trees, shrubs, grass – they keep the air clean, look beautiful and have a positive effect on peoples’ wellbeing.
Idea Three: More affordable residential areas in the city centre. Attractive apartment blocks that add to the city’s charm and provide housing. Keeping it central wills to the erosion of our green belt.
Idea One: Sunday mornings: I am delighted and quietly proud that our shops aren’t open on Sunday mornings, but not for the reasons you might assume. Shopping has become too much of a social/leisure activity in recent years for my liking, and I reckon we could turn what seems like a weakness into a real strength for Belfast. I would like to propose using those few valuable hours when the main shops are forced to be closed in order to shine a light how we need to change our consumer habits now, in light of both the Global Pandemic and indeed Brexit. (Continued below)
Idea Two: Sunday mornings continued: How about seeing our commercial properties as venues rather than just retail outlets. I recall seeing behind-the-scenes of IKEA as part of Heritage Day few years ago – it was brilliant. Could we run tours/events/workshops with one key theme: Celebrating all things Nornirish and emphasising the importance of buying local.
– Big supermarkets explain how they source their produce? Make it a civic responsibility that they declare their best local producers and make them admit/explain they would prefer to source more local rather than shipping it in… – Organise workshops in nurseries, farm shops, on farms – again promoting the need to buy local – educate us about how much better it would be to patronise local farmers and producers, why with the backdrops of both Brexit & Covid, we don’t need to ship in what we have available locally. Does anyone else bristle when they see lamb from New Zealand or Norwegian salmon on our shelves and menus?
Idea Three: Sunday mornings cont’d: How about opening libraries and holding readings and activities around the theme, with local writers, with the objective of producing a manifesto for us all…? And perish the thought, could we maybe even sit down with religious organisations and throw a few ideas out there to them? It could be as simple as voluntary schemes to help clean up cemeteries… but if they are engaged with, it could really go somewhere quite profound If we know something from the pandemic it’s that it is the warm-up act, the climate crisis is the main show. If Belfast can do something which better prepares us all to be better climate citizens, gotta be onto something, aye?
Idea One: Belfast City Council show urgency and leadership to eradicate poverty by adopting Community Wealth Building as their approach to economic development following the lead of Preston, Newham, N Ayrshire and many more. Make poverty part of our pre-pandemic history by ensuring that the considerable wealth of our public institutions such as the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (one of the largest health trusts in the UK), Belfast City Council, QUB and UU better supports the local economy and local people. A starting point is that these institutions pay the real living wage and collaborate on their procurement processes to ensure that local SMEs and co-operatives are in a position to bid for their contracts..
Idea Two: Make poverty part of our pre-pandemic history by Belfast committing to a plan to become a Real Living Wage city. The real living wage is £9.50 per hour for 18 or over as opposed to the National Living Wage, which is £8.72 per hour for 25 or over, £8.20 for 21 to 24 and £6.45 for 16 to 20. Belfast could learn from Dundee where an alliance of employers has developed an action plan with Living Wage Scotland to become the UK’s first living wage city.
Idea Three: Make poverty part of our pre-pandemic history by ensuring everyone has enough food and having a zero tolerance approach to the need for food banks in our city. As the 5th largest economy in the world our neighbours should have enough food and not have to rely charity.
Idea One: Open disused sites (such as the empty North Street car park site) for temporary/pop-up retail markets with emphasis on low-cost low-rent to foster local independent businesses and start-ups without the infrastructure and rent overheads. Successful business models around the UK such as Boxpark and Pop-Brixton have seen their respective communities benefit from the modern town market format using shipping containers and food trucks. This both offers an opportunity for small scale local ventures but also revitalises dingey patches of the city and draws people back onto the high streets. This should be a green initiative encouraging “bring your own bags/containers”/no (unnecessary) plastic policy.
Idea Two: Most of the working population are occupied 9am-5pm only leaving the weekend to shop after 5pm in the city. I propose a shakeup of the traditional retail business hours, to allow/encourage the high streets to continue into the weekday evening, with a natural transition and overlap from high street retail to nightlife hours (restaurants/bars etc).
Idea Three: Extend services and increase frequency of public transport. Waiting times for bus/trains in and around the city are often too long to consider as first preference choice over car, and leaves commuters who rely on the services packed at peak times. Reliable frequent services would open the public transport network as a feasible option easing traffic congestion during commuting hours and encouraging convenient transport to and from the city centre and other commercial streets lifting footfall for the local businesses. Friday-Saturday late night services should run a more frequent service (eg: every 10-15min up to 12pm) from city centre to grow nightlife.
adam cree, 3en cloud ltd
Idea One: Work Place Culture: I believe a change we need to make is something we have been forced into over the last year, which is how we continue to balance out workplace cultures and embrace greater flexibility for employees. I think we need to aggressively adopt a far more flexible workplace, help organisations to realise the free benefits they can implement for their staff such as flexible working hours, work from home, unlimited holiday policies and more. I understand not all organisations can implement everything, but I firmly believe that in promoting healthy workplace cultures and supporting our employees we make working in Belfast even more attractive, we help with work-related mental health issues, and keep a healthier work-life balance.
Idea Two: Support Local: Belfast is filled with locally owned, indigenous organisations that are doing amazing things. All these businesses support families, friends, and local people’s livelihoods. I think we need to recapture a greater sense of community, and there is no better way than shopping in your local, getting to know the faces and families behind your local community. We need to introduce greater tax breaks and benefits to shopping at indigenous organisations across the board, from local butchers and bakers to services and IT companies. To accompany this, we need to keep up the amazing work that so many local organisations are doing in export business, which adds a huge amount of value to the economy and continue to see local companies grow and flourish.
Idea Three: Use our local tech sector to solve city-wide issues: Belfast is quickly becoming a world-renowned pool of tech talent and home-grown businesses. We need to utilise the incredible talent within our tech sector to adapt our city to match, with smarter public transport, better environmental controls, and use local brilliant minds to provide solutions to some key problems. Specifically, Belfast was named in 2020 as one of the top 10 UK cities for traffic congestion. Let’s use our local tech talent to come up with far more efficient and environmentally solutions to our traffic issues. Not only does this cost the average drive nearly £1000 per year and a third more time commuting during peak hours but cause a wealth of unseen damage in other areas such as the environment and economy.
steve ricardos (via sluggerotoole.com)
Idea One: Build the roof on round from Victoria centre right over Cornmarket and down Ann Street in a loop. Make Ann Street a fully pedestrianised zone with cafe’s and bars. Ban all election posters in the CBD. More trees everywhere.
am ghobsmacht (via sluggerotoole.com)
Idea One: Make it illegal to demolish pre-WWI buildings.
Idea Two: Charge full rates for derelict buildings and sites (and a special new premium for pre-WWI buildings that mysteriously burn to the ground after the implementation of such laws).
Idea Three: Greenify the place: allotments & pedestrianised areas. The idea being that land-banking will no longer be profitable so landlords will be forced into action.
gopher (via sluggerotoole.com)
Idea One: Sell the City airport and build the most high tech environmentally friendly annex to the City.
Idea Two: Move Bombardier to Aldergrove and expand that annex further.
Idea Three: Include Kinnegar expanding further and Ireland’s housing needs are sorted for the next 50 years. With the profits of those sales and the rates Belfast council can waste money to its heart is content.
irish londoner (via sluggerotoole.com)
Idea One: How would I make Belfast better? Start by making Derry and the other towns in NI better places to live so that Belfast doesn’t become a “mini London” or “mini Dublin” sucking the life out of the rest of the country, with stupidly high rents/house prices, traffic gridlock, even more student flats and office blocks and coffee shops, and taking all the cultural life.
oggins (via sluggerotoole.com)
Idea One: Less city centre parking. Pedestrianised more. More trams/glider services. Circular routes around Belfast. Unlimited city travel for a fixed fee per year. Needs to be cheaper than a car.
Idea Two: Turn abandoned upper floors of buildings (city centre) into housing.
Idea Three: More social/affordable housing that is designed for 15min Cities.
Idea One: Belfast is the only city I know with its back turned to the water. The Lagan riverbanks and Harbour area could be like Nyhavn in Copenhagen filled with colourful buildings and structures which bring vibrancy all year round as they reflect on the water. At nighttime the lights would be beautiful, and the river could have colourful water taxis which could be manufactured in H and W. There could be a floating artisan village for creative small businesses filled with coloured containers with roof gardens, bringing green to the area. We could have Ireland’s only much needed Velodrome and an urban floating beach similar to Copenhagen. The river should be a year-round attraction filled with life.
Idea Two: The beautifully restored Queens Arcade and the fountain area behind it should be developed into a covered garden area like Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, with cool structures having plants grow up them to give shelter from the weather and an amazing indoor/outdoor atrium style space, especially practical after Covid. This could have heated outdoor areas and have food stalls and a hawker market seating area. There could be morning/afternoon activities for older people, with emphasis on those with memory impairment, events for kids during the day and a cool music vibe at night. This would be an amazing venue.
Idea Three: The old ITV building could be used as a theatre showing a play about the Titanic or St Patrick or other stories of interest to tourists. There are limited venues for families to go at night in Belfast and this would be a great way to employ actors/musicians and to help bring in much needed tourists. There could be a mini theatre showing movies made in N Ireland or short movies about other places to visit in the country. While it is desirable to push cycle paths, the vast proportion of people in N Ireland do not bike and car parking is essential in the city centre to generate business in the short term.
Idea One: Replace 1 out of every 4 city centre roadside parking bays with ‘mini-parks’. Plant hedges and trees in the bays. In shopping/eating streets increase this ratio to 2 out of every 4 parking bays and infill with street side seating, hedges and cafe terraces.
Idea Two: Turn Dunbar Link into an urban boulevard/linear with single lane traffic, cycle paths, a central wildflower park and natural storm water management. (Reference Sheffield grey to green project). Use as a pilot to roll out across the city.
Idea Three: Start implementing policies to keep city centre housing affordable now. Let’s not wait until city centre living becomes unaffordable to have policies to maintain housing prices at a sensible level to ensure that those on average incomes will be able to live in the city centre in future. We don’t Belfast to become unaffordable like London or Dublin and there is time to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Idea One: Free city-wide public transport paid for using a congestion charge.
Idea Two: Zero business rates for small businesses.
Idea Three: Compulsory purchase of derelict properties by council. Council then refurbishes and rents out property to small businesses ie. a council house scheme for small businesses.
Idea One: Pedestrianise the whole of Belfast City Centre. No vehicles – especially not buses – inside the Victoria Street, May Street, Millfield, North Street ‘square’ except for deliveries at specified times. The grounds of the City Hall, Donegall Place and Royal Avenue becomes a city centre park with market stalls and food vans along its entire length. I’m seconding one of the other contributor’s ‘food market in the old Tesco’ idea.
Idea Two: A major city centre museum and gallery to share the Ulster Museum’s collection, and to host exhibitions by local and international artists. We’ve plenty of huge empty buildings in the aforementioned ‘city centre square’ suitable for housing such a museum.
Idea Three: I can’t think of a 3rd. Besides, 1 & 2 are belters.
Idea One: Extend Victoria Square roof to cover Arthur Square (street entertainment, no matter the weather).
Idea Two: Incorporate grassland/urban park into Tribeca (outside of City Hall there isn’t a blade of public grass in a mile radius).
Idea Three: £2/room/night hotel room tax (to help fund homeless accommodation).
Idea One: Belfast City Council work to find areas to create more green belt areas and engage local community groups and charities to help plant native trees, hedgerows, organic vegetable patches, planting wildflowers, putting up bird boxes and bee hotels and organise how they can be continually maintained.
Idea Two: Create an historic area of local shops and workshops á la Cultra whereby people can learn skills like working with linen etc, and the shop can sell the wares made, and a kind of replica mills etc could be made to take tourists into this area and show them what was the heart of industrial Belfast. Other workshops can look at skills like rope making, coopering etc that were also part of Belfast’s history, so people can learn and buy local products made on site. A number of shops could be created like old Belfast, for example an old hardware shop, where people can not only learn skills like working with a lathe etc, but the products can then be sold in the shop, along with loose nails etc. Perhaps have a café in this ‘street’, which gives cooking lessons upstairs on how to forage and use the ingredients from the vegetable patches suggested above, and create meals using all local ingredients. Belfast City Council can work with a number of agencies and volunteers to make this happen and bring some life into Belfast City Centre.
Idea Three: Create more pedestrian areas in Belfast and creative hubs, such as the back of Kelly’s Cellars and the Mourne Seafood Bar. Have local pop-up shops and street sellers and create vibrant areas, with street art, theatre, music etc. Have the organisers of space work with other festivals, such as CQAF, Imagine, etc and have activities every weekend.
Idea One: Big Top Open Air Venue: It rains here so lets fix that with a venue with a great big roof. But with Covid around and the prospect of a son of Covid we need to sort out fresh air while keeping comfy, leaving the sides off for now. So heat the seats, the floor, and some radiant heat from the roof so we can let the wind blow through. Maybe with some extra safe ventilation for the performers and staff and perhaps even sterilised air blown to some of the seats so granny can come too.
Idea Two: Electric Bikedom: There were five times as many electric bikes sold last year in Europe as electric cars, so go with the (traffic) flow, installing covered secure charging points around the place, and especially at bus and train stations. With the E-bike and public transport combo most places become very accessible without it costing the earth, also for young people. The routes of old railway lines are ideal for E-bikes and cycle tourism, with their pretty views and easy gradients to extend the bikes’ range.
Idea Three: Local Home Climate Changer: Install hot community heating powered by the ‘free’ wind energy that will be going spare after big corporates like Microsoft, Google, Amazon go looking for 100% renewable energy and find that it is cheaper to finance a too-big wind farm that often spills power in winter. So bottle it as heat for winter use in big heat reservoirs like the Danes and Dutch are doing, heating historic buildings and homes by sucking heat out of the Lagan with big electric heat pumps like Glasgow or Malmo have.
Idea One: Redo the Cornmarket. Consider the Meeting House Square development in Dublin, with optionally raised canopies and space for a semi-outdoor bazaar. It used to be a real focal point and now it’s just where people traverse to get to Victoria Mall.
Idea Two: Appoint a night-time manager to co-ordinate evening activities across the city. The best bits of Belfast at night tend to be happening in localities outside the city centre. There’s an emergent (possibly now entrenched) class divide between people who are aware of and prepared to travel across town to attend events – and there’s no effective method to communicate or support events taking place. It turns into ‘who you know’ instead of cross-city awareness. I don’t underestimate the complexity of getting people across district boundaries, but it would be great if it could happen!
Idea Three: Fund festivals with an emphasis on equity and stop funding events that don’t promote a one-great-shared-city approach. Some events are big enough to be able to stand on their own feet. Whilst they can be promoted and supported, the difficulty of challenging preconceptions of what they are means funding is essentially sequestration.
Idea One: Retrofit all domestic housings to the highest energy rating, reduce fuel poverty, improve people’s lives and health, create local jobs and …reduce our carbon emissions! And a city-based citizens assembly on the planetary crisis.
Idea Two: Remove the obsession with ‘economic growth and competitiveness’ as the main objectives of central and local government – more prominence to be given to socioeconomic and gender equality, public health outcomes and wellbeing of citizens and communities as the objectives for public policy.
Idea Three: Community Wealth Building for Belfast – all the cities ‘anchor institutions’ (Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, QUB, UU, Belfast Met, Belfast Harbour) to come together to pool their enormous combined procurement budgets and use it to better support the local economy, create local jobs, encourage a different, more democratic, fairer and greener economic model as demonstrated by Preston in Lancashire.
Idea One: An initiative that encourages neighbours to get to know each other and be in association with each other. I fear that ideas generated in board rooms lead to programmes and services being delivered to passive consumers but believe that ideas generated on doorsteps will rekindle community and democracy.
Idea Two: Highly localised walking groups to promote exercise and relationships between neighbours. A loosely informal association similar to Parkrun.
Idea Three: A ‘Green neighbours’ competition encouraging people to come together to improve and increase the volume of flowers, trees, greenery, birds, bees and butterflies.
Idea One: Community spaces – open spaces throughout the city for communities to come together. Ideally these would be easily accessible, with perhaps some protection from the weather. These could be used for casual meet-ups, kids playing, coffee dates, or more organised events (e.g. social groups/clubs, exercise, public meetings, cookery demonstrations, pop-up stalls for local producers). Where space us at a premium, use of smaller communal available spaces (back alleyways, unused plots).
Idea Two: Promotion of healthy living – expansion and integration of local parks, walking trails, exercise equipment and Belfast bikes. Improved public transport links to these facilities. Longer opening hours. Better facilities (e.g. bathroom facilities, disabled access). Promotion of healthy eating – more space for allotments, support for “grow your own” at home, healthy eating public info sessions, cookery demos, recipe ideas. Financial incentives to buy from local greengrocers.
Idea Three: Integration across all sections of the community. Positive discrimination re: funding for projects/events which encourage integration. Review of funding for projects/events aimed primarily at 1 section of the community. More focus on “cross-community” social clubs/groups/after schools clubs etc. Financial community incentives to take down flags/murals etc. Ban political party election posters in public areas.
live work make hives
Idea One: New and repurposed buildings containing shared work life spaces. Working from home means walking down the stairs to the hot desk area, or the messy zone, industrial kitchen or meeting hall. A new hive design with high design standards integrates life and work for people who can and want to live that way. It promotes meeting and mixing of ideas between people who may work at very different things. Hives are private and both home and office. In use all the time they save dead hour space. They save on destructive commuting. And did I mention – publicly owned?!
Idea Two: Save the pubs. Save music. Free ents licences. Direct subsidy if they give a stage to local and live musicians.
Idea Three: Three ideas – after a year of lockdown?
borghert jan borghmans
Idea One: My great idea is to get rid of the Department for Infrastructure. Belfast will be better without them planning, building, and providing for cars. Instead, we’ll have a Department for Connections – starting at a human level. Bridges, metaphorical and physical, will be built.
bill wolsey, group managing director, beannchor
Idea One: Live back in the city: Belfast has a rich tapestry of history and heritage, most notably beautiful Victorian buildings across the city centre – many of which are lying vacant and not being realised to their full potential. In Belfast we have an embarrassingly low rate of occupancy in the city centre compared to other European cities. It is currently very difficult to receive planning permissions to deliver these residential builds but if we could address these archaic laws, we could make real change and create housing. This in turn would create more vibrancy and activity in the city whilst leading to more positive change such as schools, health care facilities etc. which would naturally follow-on from more housing.
Idea Two: A Living Museum: Belfast’s story has been built on vibrant communities and the legacy of industries such as ship building, linen manufacturers, cotton and pottery. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of historical artefacts at our fingertips that visually tell us that story. Art and culture are an integral part of the human experience and sadly often that message can be lost, as it can feel inaccessible. To attract attention, encourage engagement with our history and heritage and visit attractions such as the Ulster Museum we should showcase these artefacts and items throughout the city centre. Through placing historical items in shop windows, bars and restaurants we can create a point of difference in the city and create a ‘living museum’. No other city is currently doing this and is a fantastic opportunity for Belfast.
Idea Three: Make Belfast a Green City: Tourists are increasingly being motivated by sustainable tourism. Belfast should work towards becoming a shining light for eco-tourism. Whilst working to make Belfast a ‘green city’ is a huge ask we must start somewhere. Everyone from hospitality to attractions, and everything in between should be encouraged to do better, and do it now through collaborating on a city-wide eco message.
Idea One: Make Belfast a hub for competitive video gaming (eSports): As the video game industry continues to grow (generating double the combined revenue of global music and box office) so too does the competitive games industry (eSports). Recent announcements such as The Ulster Screen Academy being awarded Unreal Academic Partner status demonstrates Belfast’s ability to be at the forefront of gaming technology. But there is an amazing opportunity to cater for the audience that plays and engages with these games. eSports events and festivals could be a showpiece for some of Belfast’s brilliant venues and attract a whole new tourism demographic.
Idea Two: Publicly subsidised video equipment hire centre: The success of the Belfast film industry has resulted in fertile ground for aspiring filmmakers. And while NI Screen do an amazing job of supporting grassroots filmmaking one of the greatest barriers for many is still the cost of equipment. The proliferation of smartphones means there’s a video camera in every pocket, but the full range of equipment required to produce a quality production goes far beyond that. A centre that makes this equipment accessible to budding filmmakers would help ensure the benefits of the film industry in Belfast extend well into the future.
Idea Three: Bring back the comedy festival: I mean, surely at this point we all deserve a laugh!
Idea One: Tesco is selling its beautiful premises on Royal Avenue for 4.25 million. This premises would be perfect as a dedicated food market for independent food businesses to sell local produce, products and meals throughout the week. This space would become a destination for local residents, city workers and tourists alike. Repurposing this unique set-piece of architectural heritage as a city owned and run food-market would also enliven the streetscape on Royal Avenue and become a new focal point in Belfast’s city centre. Every European city has one of these markets, why not Belfast?
Idea Two: Belfast needs to become more bicycle-friendly to improve the health of both its people and its air quality. Many people would love to take their bike to school, work or shopping but feel unsafe to do so. Dedicated and separate cycle lanes, safe bicycle storage points as well as changing points in workplaces will go a long way to reduce the barriers that currently exist.
Idea Three: If we can make Belfast a more bicycle-friendly city, we will eventually need a lot less city-centre carparking, particularly as homeworking becomes standardised. The eventual surplus of surface carparking in the city will enable opportunities to create more green spaces in Belfast, from parks to playgrounds, allotments and even micro-forests. The city-centre will become a more desirable place to live, work and visit as a result.
linen quarter BID
Idea One: Redesign of all public realm within the historical Linen District to create an outdoor office-as–playground setting that will redefine the experience of ‘office work’ and will help to support a vibrant office culture within Belfast city centre that allows for new ways of (socially distanced) working to take root. Such an outdoor office as playground could incorporate outdoor living rooms / meeting spaces / play spaces e.g. running tracks, climbing walls, table tennis etc. and would be supported by an online booking system and secure forms of sustainable transport e.g. sheltered bicycle parking and Ljubljana-style Kavalir public transport vehicles. A fully pedestrianized Linenhall St could act as the spine of this office-as-playground.
Idea One: Encourage street art and water features in the city, with street furniture like canopies over shops acting as aesthetic addition, rain cover and expanded shop space, thus increasing foot traffic..
Idea Two: Pioneer a system of rates relief for social enterprise and small businesses who might struggle to obtain a city-centre location – a mix of business types is as essential as mixed occupancy developments.
Idea Three: Revive or rebuild entertainment buildings such as cinemas and St Mary’s Hall, which used to stand on Bank Street and is now Bank Square.
Idea One: Full pedestrianisation of the entire length of Linen Hall Street to allow for the creation of a linear urban park that incorporates ample public realm for social socially distanced events, outdoor dining and drinking experiences, family friendly activities and water features. Such a park could be utilized to showcase a number of innovative sustainable urban features such as SuDS, green walls and green roofs and could help to re-attract much needed footfall for businesses by promoting the city centre as an attractive and fun place to be, while also providing a urban haven for local flora and fauna.
Idea Two: A new system of cycle superhighways alongside all Glider routes (existing and planned) that would allow for safe cycling for people of all ages, incomes and capabilities. Such an intervention would support both retail and hospitality in both local high streets (studies have consistently shown this) while also increasing visitor numbers to Belfast city center. Increased levels of cycling will also boost health levels among the population, thereby making the population more resilient in the face of any future pandemic.
Idea Three: A network of ‘community offices’ that provides workspaces within the local community and offers people without convenient home office facilities with a work environment that is flexible and close to home. Such a network of community offices would offer a dedicated place for ‘homeworking’ without the distractions of the home and would also be attractive for people that just look for an office retreat to get the work done. A community office should be more than just a workplace though and by providing desktop computers, additional training and refreshments they could act as small learning hubs that would be beneficial to all.
Idea One: Scent of a City – Every visit to a city is a sensory experience – for example, we ‘take in the sights’ – there’s the ‘Sound of Belfast’ and the ‘Taste of Ulster’, we can soak up the vibe or the ‘feel’ of a place. But how does our city ‘smell’? Can we create an exceptional ‘olfactory experience?’ The sense of smell in humans is more powerful that we realise – so let’s make Belfast smell beautiful. Olfactory reminiscence is the most powerful of all – I recall the smell of the Ormeau Bakery back in the day, the scent of fresh cut grass in the east Belfast ‘burbs as a child, or the ‘chippy’ in Ballyhackamore. Let’s blast the city with aromatics – pots of rosemary, thyme, fresh basil, lavender, roses. Research has shown that businesses that use ‘smell’ to attract customers increase profits – e.g. by dropping essential oils near their doors – why not make Belfast a city that smells beautiful and give our visitors an olfactory experience to remember.
Idea Two: Time Passages – City of Clocks – One thing that is universal to all is the experience of time, ticking onwards. My friend JT once told me – look up and count the clocks – so we did and discovered just how many beautiful clocks there are dotted around the city, casually documenting time ticking on and on, stopping for no one. In looking up to discover our clock faces, the added pleasure is in the discovery of our stunning architecture. From the slightly leaning Albert Clock to the digital documenters dotted on billboards – we could explore more about these historic, too oft-ignored edifices. We could fire the imagination of generations – via cross-generational work with the clocks as props, time travelling history projects, portals to the past and imagining just what the future clocks of Belfast will look like – is time the only thing that will never change?
Idea Three: The Other Belfasts – There’s only one Belfast – or is there? There’s 20 other places called Belfast – 14 in USA, two in South Africa, another somewhere in the UK (according to google), one in NZ and Jamaica. Can we imagine what these other Belfasts are like and should we find out? If the Festival is called Imagine Belfast – let’s imagine the others, and discover more about our similarities, differences and cultures. It’s a big wide world out there – let’s look outwards, take a global perspective, and make friends with our namesakes around the globe.
Idea One: Clean up the city of litter:
- Heavier fines & greater vigilance eg dog dirt, carry out waste…
- Accentuate campaign for recycling, especially plastic & tins.
- Tidy up vacant sites.
Idea Two: Clean and brighten up neglected buildings, especially prominent buildings eg. Crumlin Road Court House.
Idea Three: Fewer signs, especially trader off-site signs and stop political posters.
Idea One: A centre for resilience and wellbeing, researching and promoting best practice lessons from conflict and Covid. Practical and inspirational. Probably best located in North Belfast.
Idea Two: More bridges across the Lagan – for the enhanced social, recreational and business benefits.
Idea Three: More trees in Belfast.
arthur acheson, architect + civic planner, belfast
Idea One: People love parks. Covid-19 has demonstrated how much. Town and city centres can become parks where we see predominantly plants and birds. You can walk or cycle in a park or drive slowly and carefully through a park. A park can be made quickly and in a participatory way as per idea two below.
Idea Two: Communities in Barcelona make fire breathing dragons and create teams of castellers of all ages and sizes. They bring their skills to the city or town centre. Local communities (about 460 Wards across N. Ireland) can prepare the parks in their own places using wheeled trailers, each one planted as a small garden.
Idea Three: Not only can local communities plant and bring trailer gardens to make the town centre into a park, they can enjoy them, tend them and be thinking about the next season’s trailer, which can be got ready in the local neighbourhood and exchanged at the start of the next season.
dr. agustina martire
Idea One: Redefine movement of people in the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods.
- Make parking really expensive, today Belfast City Centre has the cheapest parking in Europe, and an oversupply of parking spaces.
- Remove all on street parking. Multi-storey parking is much more efficient use of space
- Only allow cars in city centre for disabled and deliveries (if they cannot be done in cargo bikes).
- Build a complete and connected protected network of cycle lanes. Cycle lanes that you would be happy to let your 8 year old cycle on their own.
- Prioritise public transport. In this order: Trains, trams, buses, taxis.
- Widen footpaths and provide seating infrastructure.
Idea Two: Densify: Build mixed use an mixed tenure in every new housing development, and densify the existing
- Any new development needs to have 30% affordable and 20% social housing. This way you assure a proper mix of class and incomes.
- Only allow mixed use development, with services for health, education and arts/culture/leisure. Only allow new development with a good amount of small commercial units, so local traders can thrive.
- Only build gentle density. Belfast does not need more than 5 stories anywhere. Value design, so that people can benefit from outdoor space in their own dwellings while making the most efficient use of space and shared collective spaces.
Idea Three: Green, Green, Green
- Do not demolish anything.
- Plant a million trees in Belfast. If you remove on street parking you can plant trees in every street.
- Only make buildings that will last at least 200 years.
- Include the latest (tried and tested) technologies to reduce the energy consumption to a minimum.
- Create jobs in renewable energies.
Idea One: Increase accessibility for more walking and cycling around the city centre and its connected areas, particularly while there is the opportunity and appetite during the local lockdown. I feel working with current active travel and community bodies will bring about the most desirable of changes. Even something like extending the Belfast bike scheme further out of the city centre is a good way to show intent and progress. Even connecting the major suburban shopping centres to the scheme would go a long way.
Idea Two: Show greater appreciation and pride in the city’s alleyway and entry system. Attractive lighting and artwork will help make these rapidly developing areas become more attractive and popular location for both locals and tourists.
Idea Three: Give local artists the opportunity to carry out work on empty or depilated buildings in the city centre. There appears to already be progress but more should be done to celebrate our local talents particularly at a time when the arts industry has been badly affected.
Idea One: Grow Your Own Food – Enable all citizens to learn to grow their own food however small their balcony is and for those without any space to grow increase/create community gardens. People don’t know how to grow their own food. Farming and growing need to be for ‘everyone’ in an effort to create a more sustainable future. Some of the capacity building could bring farmers to virtual or real spaces to teach, coach, mentor young and old new farmers who want to grow their own food and find ways to ‘invest’ in small farms for the non-vegan folks.
Idea Two: Elder Spaces – Envision new paradigms for ageing from 50 forward. Bring citizens of ‘all’ ages together with progressive, visionary architects, developers and others who can imagine an end to warehousing elders and the creation of intergenerational developments that are designed to effect culture change and a vibrant intergenerational community/neighbourhoods.
Idea Three: Cycling Infrastructure & Cycling Community – Imagine a greener Belfast with investment in infrastructure for non-vehicular travel and communities. Transform roads and other spaces to enable cycling as short form transportation and recreation for all ages.
Idea One: I would seek to repurpose vacant buildings around the city centre to inhabit our rich and vibrant arts, culture and heritage sector with museums, art galleries, creative and craft workshops. Enhancing the “things to do, things to see” portfolio in our City, for the benefit of her citizens and its tourists.
Idea Two: Rarely does a capital city have such green landscape on its doorstep. With the Cavehill, the Castle and the Zoo all interconnected we truly have the very best of both worlds on offer in Northern Ireland. I would like to see the Old Belfast Zoo site transformed into beautiful, majestic gardens with camping/glamping facilities for those keen hikers and thrill seekers to generate an income, create jobs and promote our beautiful city. A Northern Irish spin on the renowned Eurocamps across Europe if you will. With an already existing bus stop directly opposite holiday makers can enjoy city tours and beyond.
Idea One: Build an integrated, segregated network of cycle lanes throughout the city with kerbs to protect users from vehicle incursions.
Idea Two: Change the rating rules so that there is no benefit to owners when a building or plot of land is left unused. Make it more expensive to own property forcing owners to put it into commercial use. Make it attractive to convert upper floors of buildings with ground floor shops to residential use. This should also be applied to unused office space.
Idea Three: Convert all ground level car parks to either:
- Parks with trees, grass areas, amenities and water features
- Urban vegetable plots allocated in the same way as allotments
- Outdoor art galleries
Idea One: Keep our city skyline low – who needs the tallest building? Our city is exceptional and what makes it so is the people and our sense of community. We do not need another tall building which blocks out the view and the sunshine – work on regenerating our existing buildings incorporating green spaces and trees (homes for wildlife).
Idea Two: Traffic Free City Centre – improve cycling and walking paths in and around the city centre. We do not need another multi storey car park – what we need is a car free city centre allowing for vehicles such as trades people (Roads, Water, Electricity, Gas), disabled access, taxis, buses, emergency services, pedestrians and cyclists.
Idea Three: Water Activities – I propose a large development (east Belfast, near Orangefield Park and Grosvenor Grammar) that will offer water activities in an Olympic sized pool e.g. diving boards, underwater diving, swimming, swim coaching, disabled access, aquarobics, mothers and babies classes, pool parties for toddlers, lifesaving, competitions, water polo, slides. To be surrounded by park and sensory gardens that would be ideal for rehabilitation. Being able to swim can be lifesaving, it is accessible to ALL. Health benefits would reduce NHS waiting lists.
Idea One: Acknowledge the past: choose a figure, an idea, a value that represents the Spirit of Belfast and its Values and commission a statue for the City Hall… get rid of Victoria or move her somewhere else (or cover her in moss?). Ideas for statues… Mary Ann McCracken, Buck Alec and his Lion, Mickey Marley and his roundabout, the United Irishmen, C S Lewis (yes, I know he’s in the east), ideas of exploration, equality, Mary Peters, Baroness Blood.
Idea Two: Look to the future; children and youth.
- Green spaces, sport areas and play parks
- More youth clubs crossing the city’s divides. eg. circus schools, art/music/sports etc.
- Better support for young children eg sure start type activities and supports for young families
- Education supports
Idea Three: Protect the future: A greener economy, more recycling, green areas, plant trees, pedestrianise the city centre. More homes in the city centre not office building and flats for Airbnb’s. A better balance in the city of small local businesses, craft centres eg. another regular St. George’s type market maybe down by the docks. A walking cycling bridge from the docks over to the Titanic and say NO to the proposed hotel there…keep the green public space!!