Linen Quarter BID has revealed an overwhelming demand from the public for change to Belfast’s urban environment as it publishes the results of its most recent Public Realm Consultation.
95% of respondents expressed a keen desire to redesign how public social spaces are currently used with calls for enhanced outdoor entertainment options, increased outdoor seating and social areas, more green space, and greater investment in cycling and sustainable transport among the most-popular suggested improvements.
The consultation ran in an online survey format from November to early January. It asked for opinion on the BID’s proposed plans to upgrade public areas across the Linen Quarter and explored public attitudes to the area in light of the Covid-19 pandemic guidelines and restrictions.
The results of the consultation detail just how important public realm spaces are to the lives of those who live and work in Belfast’s urban areas. They highlight the need for regeneration to create shared sustainable spaces that will drive footfall and create an environment for safe and positive social interaction.
Interestingly, respondents would value the ability to social distance comfortably ahead of car parking in the Linen Quarter District with 91% in support of the removal of car parking spaces if it were to enhance pavement space and pedestrian routes. Similarly, over 90% would like to see accommodations and improvements made to cycling infrastructure in the area, suggesting that personal environmental impact is a growing area of concern for respondents.
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 on the consultation results, Chris McCracken, Managing Director of Linen Quarter BID said:
“Our consultation highlights overwhelming support for a re-imagined city centre. The world has changed and so too has the public’s desire for the urban environment of the future.”
“To recover from the pandemic, and restore economic vitality to Belfast, we need to create a public realm that is focused on health & well-being, social spaces, and sustainability. LQ BID are delighted to work in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure, Department for Communities and Belfast City Council to deliver projects that will meet those aspirations”
“Over the next six months we will be installing a Boardwalk and Parklet in Linenhall Street, enhanced lighting in Blackstaff Square, and new planting across the District. Our largest project is a new social hub at Brunswick Street, which will include a container café/bistro, open air seating, outdoor stage, and games area.”
“As a leading advocate for a more sustainable city, we will also reflect the desire for more sustainable transport, including improved infrastructure for walking and cycling, with the relevant authorities.”
Linen Quarter BID’s purpose, since it was established as an independent, not-for-profit organisation in 2018, has been to support the area by creating and promoting a vibrant, contemporary, secure and sustainable destination for those who work in and visit the area. In 2019 it launched a regeneration vision for the Linen Quarter, which envisaged the types of projects that it is now delivering, with co-funding from the City Centre Revitalisation Fund.
For full results of the public consultation or for more information on the work of Linen Quarter BID, visit linenquarter.org or @LinenQuarterBID on Facebook and Twitter and @LinenQuarter on Instagram.