Strategy aims to help Belfast regain its international trading status
Joe Berridge from Urban Strategies picture with (from the right) First Minister Peter Robinson, Lord Mayor Councillor Nichola Mallon and Michael Parkinson at the #FutureBelfast conference in Belfast Waterfront today. (Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye)
A Toronto-based company, Urban Strategies, is to unveil its plans to assist Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast regain its position as an internationally recognised centre of innovation and global trade.
Joe Berridge, a partner in the company, will be one of the main presenters at a conference on Friday “Belfast; Future City” alongside Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nichola Mallon.
After more than 30 years of civil unrest, Belfast has made great strides during the past 20 years and has seen a huge increase in tourism, attracting Foreign Direct Investment and infrastructure developments.
The city, which at the turn of the 20th century was recognised globally as a leader in industries such as shipbuilding and linen, is keen to regain its status as a world class city and Mr. Berridge has been appointed by Belfast City Council to help provide a new vision and investment strategy to guide the growth of Belfast‘s centre for the next 20 years.
Significant re-investment in new office, retail and housing developments, in the remarkably successful Titanic Quarter and in riverfront and public realm improvements has underlined the positive future ahead. The University of Ulster is establishing a new campus in the Centre and office employment is showing a significant rise.
The Urban Strategies plan emphasizes the need to promote major increases in the centre’s living and working population, and secure its future as the retail centre of the region. The centre needs a comprehensive make-over to reflect a greener, more pedestrian-friendly future, and foster the growing food and music scene – not just for locals, but to support increasing tourism and business visitation. The Plan also sets out to deliberately dismantle the many physical barriers between the centre and the surrounding communities.
Two overarching goals inspire the Plan. The first is to confirm the City Centre’s role as the principal wealth creator for Northern Ireland and help generate the economic growth the region and its communities critically need. The second is to make the Centre a shared space, a safe place and common ground where the disparate communities of the city can come together to live, work, play and enjoy themselves.
As Joe Berridge notes, “The city has had a troubled past and the scars and tensions are still visible. The creation of a place that is welcoming and home to all will be important for a shared future.
This is one of the most interesting assignments I have ever had. It is unprecedented to be able to help a major city and it is also a challenge to figure out how city planning can be used to help mend a fractured city and unite its communities.”