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Transforming four Belfast urban spaces: from grey to green

Date: 23 Jan 2024

Category: City centre, City regeneration and development

Belfast City Council and The Conservation Volunteers on a section of the Belfast Stories site

Almost £115,000 is being invested in making the city greener as part of A Bolder Vision for Belfast, thanks to Belfast City Council and the Department for Infrastructure Blue Green Infrastructure fund.

Belfast City Council’s ‘Grey to Green’ initiative invited the city’s businesses, social enterprises, charities, and schools to submit expressions of interest in a fund to support temporary green projects in the city centre, and the successful applicants have now been confirmed.

The Conservation Volunteers has been granted meanwhile use of a section of the Belfast Stories site on Royal Avenue to develop a publicly accessible community garden, using polytunnels, raised planters and vegetable beds for a period of around 18 months. During this time, the environmental charity will also deliver an extensive engagement programme, working with range of minority groups, including adults and young people struggling with mental health issues.

Councillor Clíodhna Nic Bhranair, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, said: “We’ve set an objective of greening the city centre in A Bolder Vision – because we want to encourage biodiversity, help to combat pollution, and make our urban spaces more attractive, pleasant, and liveable.

“We were delighted with these organisations’ visions of how we transform urban spaces from grey to green.  We’re really excited to be working with The Conservation Volunteers to deliver a city centre community garden on part of the Royal Avenue site that will become our landmark visitor experience, Belfast Stories, in 2029. We’re also hopeful that the young people and adults involved in creating the space will experience real and lasting benefits in terms of better mental health and wellbeing.

“The Belfast Healthy Cities Advisory Group will be supporting The Conservation Volunteers – and we’ll be encouraging proactive community engagement to create a sense of ownership.

“It’s also fantastic to support Killultagh Estates, Maritime Belfast Trust and Belfast South Community Resources to deliver their projects which will sustainably introduce natural habitats to our city centre.”

Dave Morton Director for NI and Scotland, The Conservation Volunteers added: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to work alongside community and council partners on the transformative Grey to Green initiative. The Conservation Volunteers have been connecting communities with green spaces across NI for several decades and know firsthand the value that a connection to nature brings for physical and mental wellbeing. The Belfast Stories site off Royal Avenue perfectly lends itself to the development of a shared community space, where we can work with all our local stakeholders to ensure the benefits of Grey to Green have a long and lasting reach.” 

Killultagh Estates is creating a Living Wall at 32-38 Linenhall Street; a vertical greening project on the façade of a prominent nine storey office building, in the heart of Belfast city centre.

Maritime Belfast Trust will deliver the Queen’s Quay Greening Project, transforming a vacant area of land into an attractive green space through planting and helping to improve connectivity and wayfinding on the Maritime Mile.

And Belfast South Community Resources will be creating ‘Sandy Glade’ on a derelict site at the corner of Sandy Row and Wellwood Street, planting a glade of native trees and pollinator shrubs and a living green wall, landscaping the glade with ornamental sand and gravel areas.

Belfast City Council’s ‘Grey to Green’ initiative follows a call for expressions of interest to Belfast based small businesses, community groups and schools to create a temporary city centre social farm or garden for a period of around 18 months.

The demonstrator project on a section of the Belfast Stories site forms a key action arising from last August’s Belfast Healthy Cities ‘Greening the City’ workshop and are part of the ‘Greening the City’ Advisory Group’s ongoing work.

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