belfast metropolitan area plan unveiled

proposals finally published amid claims not ambitious enough. aims for belfast city centre to be prime shopping area with out of town developments curtailed.

  • peteb

    and it’s cost £3million to produce a draft plan that is already 2 years behind schedule.

  • willowfield

    If out-of-town shopping is to be curtailed then it’ll be a good plan.

  • Alan

    PeteB,

    It’s worse than that because the BMP only arrived because a smaller plan for the Belfast Urban Area got stick from rural interests concerned than Belfast’s interests might prevail. Belfast has waited far too long for this.

  • Donnie

    Who is the housing allocated for? Will we expect to see developers buying up the houses en masse and inflating the prices yet again?!

  • Young Fogey

    It’s a case of supply and demand here Donnie – the developers get away with ridiculous prices because nimby interests around Belfast’s suburban fringe have prevented development keeping up with either population growth or changes in family structure for decades. Increase the supply, and given that the demand for housing is relatively constant, the price will fall.

  • Alan

    Actually, the Plan should be about restricting developers, forcing them to return to brown field sites, and preventing development in areas that are over developed, such as Belfast’s southern approaches.

    It is also possible to use the plan to encourage development north west of Belfast. We also need to have developers thinking wholisticly, so that new developments are well serviced by shopping, education and other provision. That should be part of the price of profit from development as in GB.

    The key to this is that people create the desire to live or shop in a particular area, not the developers and speculators, which is why we need to gently direct development towards social goals.

  • idunnomeself

    can’t agree young fogey

    demand for housing is going up as we have smaller and smaller households and increasing numbers of second homes. Think of all those unmarried 20 somethings and divorced couples.

    Belfast is the least dense city I’ve ever seen. Our building is hardly compact and there are vacant sites all over the place, never mind the ‘peace planning’ where we have moved communities apart and wasted acres of land in between.

    We need to revitalis our city by increasing density. I would challange the need for *any* greenfield development. Lack of density is the cause of shops/ post offices closing, low school rolls, bad public transport, poor amenities, litter, mess, anti-social behavious etc etc. Most of our social problems in fact partially stem from our poor planning.

    I will read it and send in a broadside if they have even given credance toteh nonsense that is ‘urban cramming’..

  • willowfield

    Agree 100% with IDM.

    An example: along the lower part of the Castlereagh Road a large volume of terraced streets were demolished maybe 10 years ago. The area was left as a wasteland for 7-8 years before any building was begun. Only in the past year or so have new houses been built on this site, and it still isn’t complete.

    Why demolish houses if you are not ready to replace them?

    How many local businesses suffered or went out of business during this period?

  • IJP

    My concern with BMAP from first look is that it isn’t detailed enough, despite the £3m. It handsomely refers to ‘improvements’ or ‘redesigns’ or whatever, without being specific.

    Perhaps this is deliberate. Civil Servants come up with a plan that they know plenty of people will object to, therefore they are able to delay the plan for ‘consultation’, knowing that’ll give time for some pressure group to scupper one part of it completely, in turn therefore scuppering all of it because the pieces no longer fit together, and in five years’ time it’ll be back to the drawing board having done nothing?

    Or should I be taking an extra dose of cynicism tablets??? 🙂

    I say we should all support the plan in its entirety and see what happens…

  • willowfield

    Why would the planners want their plan to be scuppered?

  • idunnomeself

    It isn’t the planner’s plan, they consulted widely before they drew it together: pre-consultation

    It sounds to me like you’re cynical about consultation anyway, not civil servants..

  • IJP

    WF

    [Mock Sir Humphrey] ‘What have the PLANNERS to do with it?’

    BMAP is about far more than just new homes, it is a whole social-development strategy for Greater Belfast, including new/improved roads and rail, park-and-ride schemes, signage, the lot. That involves government action

  • willowfield

    Why would the planners want the plan to be scuppered?

  • Young Fogey

    Interesting comments folks, but I’ll tell you why I don’t buy into them.

    Firstly, there have been attempts to densify Belfast, notably the construction of about 5,000 city centre apartments. There are an awful lot of these still lying empty. There just isn’t that much demand for high density, city centre, living in Belfast. There have been, of course, much more successful attempts at densification through infilling and coversion to flats in South Belfast and along the Antrim Road. But for an awful lot of people, their home is their castle.

    Rather than trying to impose today’s urban planning vogue from the top down (which is different from the vogue of 30 years ago and will be different again from the vogue of 30 years from now), it would be better to work with the grain of what people actually want. That way we might get some decent new developments instead of plywood keek put up with no sanitation, schools, or facilities by one or t’other of a certain pair of brothers in the Borough of Castlereagh.

    I did say that there was a need for more housing as our population is still going up and because for of smaller family sizes. That isn’t in and of itself an argument for more densification if people don’t show any desire for it. Our population density of 122 people/sq. km itsn’t exactly of the same order as Java’s, is it?

  • IJP

    WF

    I didn’t say they would.

    But the planners don’t have ultimate responsibility for the plan.

    It’s what our elected politicians, oh, sorry, forgot, our non-elected officials want that counts.

  • George

    63,000 houses over 10 years for a region that accounts for 40% of NI’s population seems very little.

    On a NI-wide level, that would be 15,700 a year for the next ten years.

    In the Irish Republic, there will be 80,000 new houses in 2004 and the long-term sustainable market requirement is put at 45,000 a year.

    In order to keep long-term pace, Northern Ireland should be aiming for around 19,000 houses a year.

    Or are the demographics so different that NI doesn’t need as many houses? I doubt it.

  • willowfield

    IJP

    You did say that. Read your 12.23.

  • Fraggle

    George, are you taking into account the effect of the celtic tiger with it’s huge employment boom. a lot of these houses are going to be filled by immigrants and returnees. the north has no such problems at present so yes, the demographics are different.

  • George

    Fraggle,
    My understanding is that those returning etc. are taken in the 80,000 per year rates at the moment but that the long-term rate when everything settles down is set around 45,000. That’s the figure most analysts come up with in the Irish Republic.

    The equivalent for NI would be around 19,000 so that would lead me to conclude that this might be quite a conservative plan with a target of 15,700. For conservative, one could also read realistic I suppose.

  • Young Fogey

    We still have some degree of natural population growth, some Third World/Eastern European immigration (though obviously not on the scale of the South) and rapidly changing family structures meaning more, but smaller, family units. All these people need houses to live in. Over-restrictive planning forces higher property prices on to the young while allowing the older and better off to benefit from artifically inflated levels of housing equity. This does not sit with social justice in my book.

  • Young Fogey

    One reason why densification isn’t working and isn’t likely to work in Northern Ireland. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4070115.stm )

    Market sector Annual change
    Terraced house 13.16%
    Semi-detached house 9.18%
    Detached house 8.65%
    Semi-detached bungalow 11.24%
    Detached bungalow 17.54%
    Apartment – 2.11%

    There just isn’t the demand for high density housing in the Belfast area. Not all of Europe is like Paris, as the Portadown News once commented.

  • mnob

    You are confusing high density with apartments. Some of the highest density housing in Belfast is in the Malone area and even higher density than that are the (very) expensive georgian squares in London.

    What happened with the apartments was a lot of investors bought them up en masse artificially inflating the price. What is happening now is a readjustment of that. Looking at a single annual figure wont show that (according to the Nationwide prices for flats in NI have risen 256% since 1993, and prices for detached houses by 260%)

    Most of the demand in housing is coming from the reduction in number of people living in each house. Do you really think the solution to this is more 4 bedroom houses in Carryduff ?

  • Robert

    If out of town shopping is going to be curtailed and there will be an increase in the numbers and density of people living in belfast, then I don’t think the BMAP transportation plans will be enough to cope with the increased commuting activity