Linen Quarter Business Improvement District (LQ BID) has put forward their vision to transform Blackstaff Square into an enhanced social space in the heart of the city centre. Working in collaboration with OGU Architects, the BID presented their proposed concept study as part of the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics.
Concepts for the square envisage a vibrant and accessible social space complete with an outdoor zone and pavement café stretching from the Crown Liquor Saloon onto Great Victoria Street and Brunswick Street. The suggested proposal also advocates for reduced traffic in the area with the pedestrianisation and high-quality resurfacing of Amelia Street to integrate the road surface into the surrounding square.
The new vision will continue to transform Blackstaff Square area which has previously been considered a hotspot for disruptive behaviour. Since 2020, LQ BID has introduced a series of public realm improvements to the area including FLAXX a 43-metre outdoor social hub, a Pétanque court, new seating and planters, and enhanced lighting.
Linen Quarter Business Improvement District
Chris McCracken, Managing Director of Linen Quarter BID said: “Blackstaff Square has long been associated with anti-social behaviour and until recently, lacked the social activation evident in other shared public spaces across Belfast City Centre.
“We’re delighted to be launching our concept with the vision to re-imagine Blackstaff Square. We want to work in partnership with the Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure to further enhance the area as a people focused district, and rejuvenate Blackstaff Square as a thoroughfare between the new Belfast Transport Hub and city centre. With thousands of people living, working and enjoying the Linen Quarter every day, it’s important we continue to make it a priority.”
Additional proposed concepts for Blackstaff Square include the introduction of central kiosk which will facilitate early morning use and marketing stalls to add vibrancy in the evenings and support the night-time economy.
Chris adds: “We need to think imaginatively to restore economic vitality to Belfast. Enhanced greenery, pedestrianisation and defined outdoor spaces all improve the aesthetic and support regeneration to increase footfall, support local businesses and drive investment to the area. Our vision for Blackstaff Square demonstrates innovative thinking to transform a semi-derelict area into an iconic plaza and social space.”
The BID’s proposals are directly linked to the Linen Quarter Regeneration Vision which has identified Blackstaff Square as a key entrance point into the city centre. The area will gain even more prominence following completion of the Belfast Grand Central Station project, currently under construction at Durham Street.
Furthermore, the Belfast Bolder Vision recognises Blackstaff Square’s strategic location and potential as a vibrant and animated social space and ideal area for pedestrianisation.
Chris concludes: “We hope that our vision and ideas can be take forward by the Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure. We welcome any feedback on our submissions and hope to discuss ideas in greater depth in the context of a future public consultation.”