Belfast is booming, and not like it used to…

THIS is a big week for Belfast. Later this morning, the new Westlink junction on the Grosvenor Road opens – a major milestone in the upgrade to Northern Ireland’s most hated section of congested road. Let us know if it helped when you finish your commute to work! Then, on Thursday, we have the opening of Victoria Square – the huge £400 million shopping development in the centre of town. Let’s hope the reality of Belfast’s second Dome of Delight matches the hype for the shoppers. The impressive glass of the mall outshines City Hall’s old brass dome – and would have been unthinkable in ‘bomb city’ even 10 years ago.

  • KieranJ

    Victoria Square my arse. Time to put a final halt to the Brit terms and titles in Innisfree.

  • 0b101010

    Why did they keep blowing up shops in their own city centre? It’s like all those bombs on the Belfast to Dublin line, I’ll never understand how any Republican could have thought that was a good idea.

  • Yvonne

    £400 million?
    You could get a parliament building for that!

  • Crataegus

    Good to see and hopefully we will have more CITY CENTRE developments and a lot less ring road developments.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why did they keep blowing up shops in their own city centre? It’s like all those bombs on the Belfast to Dublin line, I’ll never understand how any Republican could have thought that was a good idea.

    They wanted to make the state ungovernable and unworkable.

    The pace at which the Westlink work has proceeded is pretty impressive. This sounds, possibly, like an example of PPP contracts working as they’re supposed to. I think most people have gotten used to the diversions and delays, so when the road fully reopens it’s going to seem like a breath of fresh air. Until it gets congested again, that is 🙂

  • Garibaldy

    Unless they did what happens in the free state and deliberately add ages on to the estimate, and then finish ‘early’.

  • elvis parker

    How about Paisley Square Kieran (though as it will open on Sundays he’d hardly approve)

  • DK

    Kieran J – you’re right, and the damn imperialist foreigners haven’t stopped at Victoria Square either:

    Westwood centre – Sounds like “West Brit” doesn’t it – just trying to remind us of our place
    Kennedy Centre – Named after an evil imperialist amerikkkan president
    Castle Court – Castle Catholic!!!! Say no more!!!!!
    Northcott – reminding us every time we see the name that we are in the oppressed north
    In Shops – we are “in” the UK – against the will of the noble gael majority in Ireland
    And of course the Victoria Centre – the Beckhams have a lot to answer for, the worst being that the are *spit* englizes.

  • Jo

    I suppose better the Victoria Centre than the Posh Centre. Oh, wait a minute… 😉

  • How’s the Spies Girls centre in Holywood coming along?

  • Briso

    The North-West rejoices at these glad tidings.

  • Was great to see three lanes open on the Westlink this morning, even if it was only for about 20 seconds worth of driving between Grosvenor and Divis St.

  • Indeed Beano. It felt remarkably freeing, right up to the point when you snarl up again getting unto the M3.

  • To give credit where it is due, given the scale of the work and volume of traffic on the Westlink, this has gone remarkably smoothly. It could have been very, very, much worse.

    Wait until they need to build Spaghetti Junction to make the M2/M3/Westlink junction free-flow in about 10 years time before you pass judgement on a *really big* road project, though.

  • slug

    Sammy

    I don’t think the M2-M3-Westlink one will be bigger than the present Westlink one. Also I suspect it will b eooner than you say.

    Agree that the present project has been well run.

  • slug

    Sammy

    Thinking about it, maybe 10 years is about right. At the same time they really ought also to widen the Dargan Rail Bridge from one to two tracks, to allow frequent services to the North and North West, and open the new Railway Station planned for that point, serving Custom House Square, Cathedral Qtr etc.

  • James D

    Check http://www.futurebelfast.com for more stuff like this.

  • Wesley Johnston’s NI Roads Site predicts work on the M2/M3/Westlink junction in a 2013-2018 time frame.

  • cut_the_bull

    Seeing that people are debating the titles of shopping centres and so on.

    The area now falsely festooned with the title Cathedral Quarter by ignorant pen pushers working for the Laganside project was, is and always shall be known as the Half Bap one of the many few Dockland city centre districts obliterated by greedy developers.

    So if you are intersted in the history and culture of this city then at least have the courtesy to call districts by their right names.

  • circles

    Indeed DK – an impressive analysis of those names all on the money – except the Kennedy centre, named after the bloke that owns curlies.

  • Twinbrook

    with the influx of stores who stayed away from the North of Ireland during the conflict/war/troubles…

    Belfast is like cities and towns across Britain is losing its identity and becoming just another corporate facade indistinguishable from one another…

  • Jo

    “A former colleague of the DRD Minister expressed satisfaction with the new road layout and expressed regret that a better roads system had not been in place years ago – which would have greatly assisted in the movement of fertiliser and diesel across the city”. 🙂

  • wallop

    My what a beautiful fur coat one wears, rejoice rejoice, rejoice, havent we done well!

    I’m delighted that we have as a united community decided to embrace construction and retail with application of our world famous education (we are proud of our articulate politicians, “statesmen” indeed with much to be articulate about) to personal indebtedness while todays London times records our disposable income as pathetic.

    Heady times indeed for our economy, and those eejits in the US and London keep banging on about a recession, what do they know eh?

  • 0b101010

    Belfast is like cities and towns across Britain is losing its identity and becoming just another corporate facade indistinguishable from one another…

    Twinbrook, cast your mind back (assuming it goes that far — Iliterally, I mean) to how it was during the Troubles: Belfast was a grim hell-hole that had nothing to offer; a commercial and cultural vaccuum. There was no character or identity anyone had any interest in maintaining, no options for the locals, no connection to the outside world, no diversity and, frankly, no joy. It sucked. Long live regeneration and our new corporate overlords; good riddance Anderson McAuley.

  • 0b101010

    *literally

  • willowfield

    The pace at which the Westlink work has proceeded is pretty impressive. This sounds, possibly, like an example of PPP contracts working as they’re supposed to.

    Or alternatively, they deliberately over-estimated the time required to complete the work so that (a) if there were delays they would still come in on time, and (b) if there were no delays they could do a big announcement about coming in ahead of schedule.

    Similar to how they made a song-and-dance of predicting traffic chaos when the work started – knowing that such exaggerated predictions would mean that people were relieved when it turned out not to be so bad after all.

  • willowfield

    Just heard David Vance on Radio Ulster complaining about Victoria Square, saying that Belfast is just the same as other cities because all the shops are the same.

    Valid comment, but such hypocrisy from David Vance – the champion of global capitalism!

  • 0b101010

    Depends on whether you think a city is mainly defined by the shops it contains.

    We can wish for a diverse and competitive local retail sector all we want, but that doesn’t make it reality. These developments and chains are filling a massive vacuum that we couldn’t, or wouldn’t, fill ourselves.