Thursday, 25 August 2011

Forum for Alternative Belfast 2011 Summer School: Area Analysis (Part 2 of 4)

Part two of the four part PLACE Blog series focusing on the Forum for Alternative Belfast summer school provides brief analysis of the area between inner south Belfast and the city centre.

This year the summer school focused on the connections between south Belfast and the city centre. To provide some background to this I have selected some of the main connections and considered their performance as inner city streets and successful places.

Map of the summer school area.

Great Victoria Street (Bruce Street - Shaftesbury Square section)

Brief SWOT analysis of Great Victoria Street
from Bruce Street to Shaftesbury Square.
Strength: Wide Street and direct 'vista' to city centre.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Weakness: Poor pedestrian environment.
A selection of the paving materials on Great Victoria Street.
Photos by Gary Potter.

Weakness: What is this space?
The relationship between building and street is poor on much of this street.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Weakness: Set-back building lines are common along Great Victoria Street.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Weakness: Public vs Private space.
There are more bollards on this section of Great Victoria Street than occupied buildings.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Weakness: There are 5 empty plots on this one section of Great Victoria Street. 
Photo by Gary Potter.

Opportunity: Good historic building stock.
Photo by Gary Potter.
Opportunity: New development sites.
E.g. South Bank Square development above will provide two new hotels.
Credit: Robinson McIlwaine Architects.

Opportunity: Ground floor commercial and upper floor residential.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Threat: Low occupancy.
 Great Victoria Street is a street of two halves - From Howard Street to Bruce Street is relatively active but moving on toward Shaftesbury Square and the street is becomes a bleak, unoccupied street. A quick survey found that almost half of this section of the street is vacant. Of the 26 active uses only one was open at 7pm on a Friday evening (a tanning and beauty salon). Looking at the building uses I soon discovered that only one building on this section of Great Victoria Street was actively used for residential accommodation (completed earlier this year).

Shaftesbury Square

Brief SWOT analysis for Shaftesbury Square.

Strength and Opportunity: Important meeting point for six key inner city routes:
Donegall Road, Bradbury Place, University Street, Donegall Pass, Dublin Road and Great Victoria Street.
Potential to become an attractive public space connecting south Belfast with the city centre.

Opportunity: Large space for reconfiguration of traffic and implementation of
pedestrian priority measures. Potential for significant public realm works.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Threat: Poor pedestrian environment severing the link between south Belfast and the city centre.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Potential: Ground floor commercial units opening onto an attractive public space.

Threat: Traffic domination.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Dublin Road

Brief SWOT analysis for the Dublin Road.

Strength and Opportunity: Dublin Road has good occupancy rates
at ground floor and is reasonably active nearly 24hrs a day all week.

Weakness and Opportunity: The pedestrian environment could be improved.
This junction could be tightened and pedestrian priority implemented to ensure the continuation of a direct link between the city centre and south Belfast.
Photo by Gary Potter.

Threat: The construction of the inner city ring could be devastating
for the Dublin Road and the connection with the city centre.
This photo shows the area of Bruce Street reserved for the inner
ring between Dublin Road and the city centre. Photo by Gary Potter.

Bruce Street

Bruce Street lacks active building frontages along the south side of the street.
However the city centre side of the street is almost fully occupied at ground level.
This provides a good basis to creating a successful street - Development on the
car park would instantly change the feel of this 'road' into a 'street'. Photo by Gary Potter.

Hope Street

Hope Street is located to the right of the car park pay station yet
the area to the left is also empty. This is due to the set back building
line for an inner city ring road. Hope Street has 29 poles / signs on
the pavements and just 2 buildings - one of which is largely on Great
Victoria Street due to its corner location and the other (see photo) is
set back from the street.   Photo by Gary Potter.

The connection to the Bus and Rail Station from Hope Street is lost behind a car park. 
Photo by Gary Potter.

Bankmore Street

Bankmore Street currently.
Photo by Gary Potter.
How Bankmore Street could look with an inner city ring road implemented.

Ormeau Avenue

Ormeau Avenue and the road reservation line which provides
a 'barrier' between south Belfast and the city centre. The city
centre side of Ormeau Avenue provides attractive historic
buildings which could help to create an attractive street if
development was permitted on the reservation line.
Photo by Gary Potter.

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