Belfast Chamber to host virtual event with Linen Quarter BID’s Chris McCracken

Cities around the world are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by reimagining how public spaces are used. With this in mind, Belfast Chamber will host a virtual event with Chris McCracken, Managing Director of the Linen Quarter BID, on March 9th from 10:00am.

Chris will discuss how LQ BID is leading Belfast’s transformation and how we can expect the area to change in 2021. Plans are already significantly underway as we journey out of lockdown and the BID prepares to welcome back the public and its members to a reimagined Linen Quarter with enhanced outdoor areas, added green spaces and a greater investment in improved infrastructure for walking and cycling.

Plans for the area include a new social hub at Brunswick Street, which will include a container café/bistro, open air seating, outdoor stage and games area, while a Boardwalk and Parklet are planned to enhance Linenhall Street.

Also joining the event is Pete Swift, Managing Director of Planit-IE, an architectural design company with expertise in creating outdoor community spaces in major UK cities including Manchester and Liverpool who will share his insights into regeneration and where public demand and interest lies.

Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber, Simon Hamilton, said: “Rebuilding our city’s economy is not going to be an easy task but there are immediate steps we can take that will have a positive impact and the power of transforming how our social and shared spaces are used should not be underestimated.

“As we move out of lockdown, we need to invest in our city while prioritising public safety. We can learn lessons from other cities who have harnessed innovation and reacted to public demand.

“Belfast Chamber encourages the work of LQ BID and it’s promising to see the regeneration of such an influential area of the city. Our event promises to be an eye-opening discussion on regeneration, with Chris and Pete both offering impressive insight.”

Chris McCrackenA recent Public Realm Consultation by Linen Quarter BID revealed 95% of the public would like substantial changes to be made to Belfast’s urban environment. Carried out to measure public sentiment as a result of the pandemic, the results detail just how important public realm spaces are to the lives of those who live and work in Belfast’s urban areas.

Interestingly, social distancing remains top of the public agenda with 91% of respondents supporting the removal of car parking in favour of enhanced pavements and pedestrian routes.  Over 80% of respondents revealed concern for hospitality and retail businesses and would support LQ BID initiatives that are aimed at improving their ability to trade.

Speaking ahead of his participation at Belfast Chamber event, Chris McCracken, Managing Director of Linen Quarter BID said: “Belfast Chamber’s event is highly relevant as we anticipate our awaited journey out of lockdown. The narrative around what cities will look like and how they will operate is building so I am looking forward to discussing our approach to regeneration throughout the Linen Quarter.

“Our recent consultation confirms that our plans for a re-imagined Linen Quarter are cognisant of what the public really values. Our focus is to create shared sustainable spaces that support businesses, encourage safe social interactions and contribute to a vibrant atmosphere.”

To register to attend the free, virtual Belfast Chamber event visit www.belfastchamber.com/events.

For more information on Linen Quarter BID, visit linenquarter.org or @LinenQuarterBID on Facebook and Twitter and @LinenQuarter on Instagram.