05/03/2003

Study to reshape Belfast city centre launched

NIO Minister Des Browne has today announced the start of a review of Belfast city's regeneration policy following the adoption of the Victoria Square Development Scheme last month.

The GB-based consultancy, G V A Grimley, has been engaged to conduct the research and is expected to report to the Department by the end of April. It is anticipated that the report will be used to inform the draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan, which is due to be published later in the year.

Outlining the issues to be addressed by the study Mr Browne said: “Following our decision to adopt the Victoria Square Development Scheme as our main priority, it is important to take an informed look at the wider city centre area and to develop an integrated and sustainable framework for the medium to long-term regeneration of the heart of Belfast.

“We need to identify the sites that would contribute most to the regeneration and future development of the city centre. The report will provide guidance on the form and scale of development appropriate for these sites and which would be achievable in commercial and planning terms."

The report will identify a phasing programme for new retail and other development in the city centre, and will take account of commercial factors as well as the priority that has been given to Victoria Square.

The consultants will also consider current and potential future major development proposals and formulate criteria to assist the Department for Social Development in assessing future development proposals.

The decision to undertake a review of the Department’s Regeneration Policy Framework for Belfast city centre was first referred to by the Minister when he announced the adoption of the Victoria Square Development scheme on 13 January this year.

(GMcG)

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