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Equality and diversity

Rural Needs Impact Assessment: Ormeau Cluster Brief

Published in September 2021


Contents


Section 1 - Defining the activity subject to Section 1(1) of the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016

1A. Name of public authority

Belfast City Council

1B. Please provide a short title, which describes the activity being undertaken by the public authority that is subject to the Section 1(1) of the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016.

Ormeau Cluster Brief


1C. Please indicate which category the activity specified in Section 1B relates to.

Activity Category
Developing a Policy Strategy Plan
Adopting a Policy Strategy Plan
Implementing a Policy Strategy Plan
Revising a Policy Strategy Plan
Designing a public service
Delivering a public service

Belfast City Council's activity relates to implementing a plan.


1D. Please provide the official title (if any) of the policy, strategy, plan for public service document or initiative relating to the category indicated in Section 1C.

Ormeau Cluster Brief


1E. Please provide details of the aims or objectives of the policy, strategy, plan or public service.

Mixed use regeneration

The council is committed to the regeneration of the city via the Belfast Agenda and the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy. Members have been clear that this regeneration programme needs to facilitate the creation of jobs, more homes, better connectivity, more open and high-quality space and community infrastructure for local people.   To deliver the scale of regeneration set out, these conditions need to be put in place:

  • A clear understanding of suitability of various sites and parts of the city for different types of development or space
  • The right mix of asset classes to build both the social and the economic infrastructure needed for a sustainable city
  • An appropriate mix of public and private sector investment and development
  • Partnerships between the public sector and the private sector
  • Effective planning policies and processes to ensure high standards of more sustainable development.
Strategic site assessment

The council commissioned the Strategic Sites Assessment (SSA) in August 2018 to assess the regeneration potential of the council’s fifteen publicly-operated city centre car parks and adjoining publicly-owned land. This was in response to the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS), Car Park Strategy (CPS) and Action Plan and city centre Masterplans that all recommend a rationalisation of low density surface level car parking to unlock regeneration opportunities in line with the Belfast Agenda’s inclusive growth ambitions.

At the meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in June 2019, members agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting of the committee providing details of air quality levels across the city and that reference be made to air quality within future reports.

The SSA sought to identify mixed use regeneration opportunities that would contribute directly to BCCRIS and support the priorities of the Belfast Agenda. Inclusive growth was considered within the context of growing the city centre residential and employment population and enhancing connectivity and open space provision. The SSA also identified potential opportunities for maximising comprehensive regeneration through wider land assembly or joint development opportunities across public and private sector land. Members should note that whilst the SSA is being undertaken in collaboration with DfC, the Department will progress any potential future development or disposal of lands in their ownership within the context of their respective governance processes.

The SSA comprised a four-stage process to consider those car parks which might be suitable for mixed-use regeneration in the short term. The shortlisting process prioritised six car park sites, grouped into three priority clusters:

  • Inner North West Cluster (Kent Street, Little Donegall Street, Smithfield)
  • Clarendon Cluster (Dunbar Street and Exchange Street)
  • Ormeau Avenue
Site visit and workshop

Following an update on the SSA initial findings in June 2019, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee agreed to further engagement by a workshop. A site visit and workshop for members took place on 4 September 2019. The site visit involved a walk around two of the SSA cluster areas; the INW (Smithfield, Samuel Street, Kent Street, Library Street, Little Donegall Street) and Clarendon (Dunbar Street).

At the workshop, the three SSA priority cluster sites were presented with details of land ownership, potential place-making and regeneration potential when comprehensively planned with adjoining third-party land, potential uses and densities and recommendations for taking forward. Feedback from members included:

  • The need for engagement with neighbouring communities
  • Ensuring inclusive, shared development
  • Agreement that the city centre offers significant regeneration potential and the opportunity to maximise the regeneration potential through working collaboratively with other landowners
  • Potential to provide social enterprise and community infrastructure
  • Support the need to unlocking city centre living including working with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, utilising public sector lands for mixed tenure opportunities, exploring potential public sector funding mechanisms and engaging with investors and developers
  • Support for a comprehensive place-making approach and the potential opportunities to maximise this through strategic land assembly
  • Desire for the council to retain control over development through title retention, detailed development briefs or joint ventures and to ensure social and economic benefits are maximised

Further engagement with members took place via Party Group Briefings during October 2019 outlining the development potential and opportunities of each of the priority clusters. 

SSA findings and recommendations

For each cluster site, the multi-disciplinary SSA team prepared a planning appraisal, conceptual development proposal and an initial assessment of the net loss in car parking provision. 

An overview of the development potential for each of the clusters will be presented to committee with a summary given. These sketches provide information on the potential heights, mass, densities and potential uses for each of the sites considered based on market information, location and maximum regeneration potential for each of the cluster areas. The final heights, mass, densities and uses will be informed by the market, brought forward by legal agreements through which the council can control the nature and timescale of development (subject to terms to be agreed by the council’s Estates Unit and Legal Services).

Final Development Agreements will be presented to City Growth and Regeneration Committee, however all decisions on agreements, financial returns from future land transactions will be taken by Strategic Policy and Resources Committee following advice from the council’s Estates and Legal Departments.

It should be noted that there will be an impact on the revenue collected by the council for car parking and it is proposed that a detailed report on this and the potential to realise a revenue stream via other means should be developed and brought back to committee.


Ormeau Place-making

The Ormeau Cluster comprises two council-operated sites known as Ormeau Avenue staff car park and Charlotte Street pay and display car park. The cluster also acknowledges that opportunities exist to consider additional adjacent public sector lands. This wider opportunity, including the council, NIHE and DfI lands, is the subject of this project.

The SSA noted that any development scheme would need to complement the existing buildings on Ormeau Avenue, in terms of scale, form, proportion, massing, elevation and treatment. The SSA also considered Bankmore Street as a potential future route for Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) Phase 2 (Glider) and noted that surrounding land not required for the BRT route should be considered as a landscaped active travel greenway; enhancing connectivity between the new Weavers' Cross Transport Hub and the proposed City Deal funded Gasworks, Ormeau pedestrian-cycle bridge. There are also opportunities to extend this greenway north along Cromac Street to East Bridge Street along the existing landscape wedge; connecting to Lanyon Place Railway Station.

In November 2019, City Growth and Regeneration Committee agreed that a professional team is appointed to ‘prepare an outline planning application for the Ormeau Avenue site and undertake further engagement with surrounding communities regarding mix and tenure of the site’. In order to inform a possible future planning application or development brief, the council now seeks a suitably qualified professional team to produce a Concept Place Making Plan for the Ormeau Avenue area. This approach acknowledges the unique physical context, future residential development opportunities, active travel provision and public realm potential.

In summary, the outputs of this work are intended to:

  • inform a consultation response to the proposed Belfast Rapid Transit Phase 2 route and influence improvements in public realm
  •  inform discussions with adjoining landowners and stakeholders to promote a comprehensive place-making led regeneration scheme incorporating built development and active travel provision
  •  inform the next steps in progressing and facilitating development in the Ormeau Avenue area.

Scope of work

Stage 1: Baseline

On appointment, the consultant will be provided with as much existing information as possible by the council. The immediate first steps will be to review baseline information provided by the council, existing development proposals and guidance from relevant policy and strategy documents, for example, Linen Quarter Vision and Guidance, BUAP, dBMAP, BCCRIS and draft LDP Plan Strategy. This will identify any gaps in analysis, issues, challenges and trends for the study area.

The consultant must also incorporate current proposals (residential) for Raphael Street Car Park which relate to the council’s Gasworks Northern Fringe Masterplan. Material will be provided by the council for consideration.

The consultant will produce a graphical summary of the relevant baseline information and guidance, supported by text and images, for the site with specific reference to:

  • Constraints, including (but not limited to): Land ownership, rights of way, utilities, contamination, transport infrastructure, related development proposals, heritage issues, planning guidance or policy and any other identified constraint.
  • Opportunities, including (but not limited to): Social, economic, environmental and physical benefits, regeneration benefits, urban design, connectivity and place-making benefits, transport benefits, rates income and any other identified opportunity. To include consideration of incorporation of adjoining sites either through joint proposal or acquisition.

In order to identify certain constraints, the consultant will be required to carry out pre-development inquiries with Northern Ireland Water (NIW), NIE, and any other identified, relevant utility companies.

Stage 2: Engagement

Through engagement with the main landowners and stakeholders, appraise development options for the lands and associated public realm opportunities. The council will provide assistance with engagement, for example. providing contacts and when appropriate, setting up meetings. The main landowners and stakeholders are expected to include NIHE (landowner), DfI (landowner, BRT2, Bankmore cycle lane,), DfC (Streets Ahead 5), Linen Quarter BID, NI Fire Service (access to fire station), NIW (sewer infrastructure above amd below ground) and Translink. Engagement with neighbouring residential communities will be co-ordinated by the council.

Stage 3: Initial concepts

Develop the development options and regeneration opportunities based on Stage 2 engagement to include concept sketches and plans, street sections, indicative mix of uses, massing and concept public realm.

Stage 3 will require Planning Service, particularly urban design and conservation input and must align with the council's priorities and Planning guidance and policy.

Stage 3 will also develop initial costings analysis and viability assessment and recommendations for collaboration between landowners and any potential for site assembly.

Stage 4: Draft plan

Develop and appraise outputs from Stage 3 with main stakeholders, for example: the council, NIHE, DfI, DfC and Linen Quarter BID to produce a draft Concept Place-Making Plan (with detail similar to Stage 2 RIBA Concept Design).

Present using high quality 3D visuals from key angles, including a site layout plan, concept floorplans (including approimate areas and detailed mix of uses), concept elevations, urban design principles and landscape and public realm proposals (including precedent imagery).

The outputs must include detailed, fully dimensioned plans accommodating the potential future BRT2 route at Bankmore and a possible permanent segregated cycle lane based on the current temporary ‘pop-up’ cycle lane installed during 2020. Consideration should also be given to emerging proposals for a cycle lane connecting East Bridge Street with Ormeau Avenue via Cromac Street; as part of a network of inner city active travel greenways.

The plan must also include recommendations for possible next steps for review and agreement with the council. This should include an indicative programme of work identifying key next steps, potential timeline of activity and key delivery partners.

The Concept Place-Making Plan must clearly articulate (with strong visuals) the regeneration opportunity, key design principles and opportunities, benefits and opportunities for the immediate area and wider city centre and any key issues and risks, for example, planning development costs, funding, site constraints, stakeholder engagement, demand.

Stage 5: Final plan

Following a period of review, the final Concept Place-Making Plan will be agreed and presented to the City Regeneration and Development Programme Board. A high quality graphical PowerPoint presentation will be required. Following presentation, any necessary amendments from Programme Board feedback will be incorporated. If required, the appointed team will also present to City Growth and Regeneration Committee.

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Section 2 – Understanding the impact of the policy, strategy, plan or public service

2A. Is the policy, strategy, plan or public service likely to impact on people in rural areas?

Yes
No

No. If the response is 'No', go to Section 2E.


2B. Please explain how the policy, strategy, plan or public service is likely to impact on people in rural areas.

This is not applicable.


2C. If the policy, strategy, plan or public service is likely to impact on people in rural areas differently from people in urban areas, please explain how it is likely to impact on people in rural areas differently.

This is not applicable.


2D. Please indicate which of the following rural policy areas the policy, strategy, plan or public service is likely to primarily impact on.

Rural policy area Impact
Yes No
Rural businesses No
Rural tourism
Rural housing
Jobs or employment in rural areas
Education or training in rural areas
Broadband or mobile communications in rural areas
Transport services or infrastructure in rural areas
Poverty in rural areas
Deprivation in rural areas
Rural crime or community safety
Rural development
Agri-environment
Other (please state)

If the response to Section 2A was 'Yes', go to Section 3A.


2E. Please explain why the policy, strategy, plan or public service is not likely to impact on people in rural areas.

This project has considered the impacts on a range of existing and potential stakeholders. We do not consider this policy to have relevance to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

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Section 3 – Identifying the social and economic needs of persons in rural areas

3A. Has the public authority taken steps to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas that are relevant to the policy, strategy, plan or public service?

Yes
No   

No. If the response is 'No', go to Section 3E.


3B. Please indicate which of the following methods or information sources were used by the public authority to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

Indicate methods or information sources used by the public authority to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas
Consultation with rural stakeholders
Consultation with other organisations
Surveys or questionnaires                               
Published statistics 
Research papers
Other publications
Other methods or information sources (include details in 3C)

3C. Please provide details of the methods and information sources used to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas including relevant dates, names of organisations, titles of publications, website references, details of surveys or consultations undertaken. 

This is not applicable.


3D. Please provide details of the social and economic needs of people in rural areas which have been identified by the public authority.

This is not applicable.

If the response to Section 3A was 'Yes', go to Section 4A.


3E. Please explain why no steps were taken by the public authority to identify the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

This project has considered the impacts on a range of existing and potential stakeholders. We do not consider this policy to have relevance to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas. 

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Section 4 – Considering the social and economic needs of persons in rural areas

4A. Please provide details of the issues considered in relation to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

This project has considered the impacts on a range of existing and potential stakeholders. We do not consider this policy to have relevance to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas. 

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Section 5 – Influencing the policy, strategy, plan or public service

5A. Has the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the policy, strategy or plan, or the design or delivery of the public service, been influenced by the rural needs identified?

Yes
No

No. If the response is 'No', go to Section 5C.


5B. Please explain how the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the policy, strategy or plan, or the design or delivery of the public service, has been influenced by the rural needs identified?

This is not applicable.

If the response to Section 5A was 'Yes', go to Section 6A.

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5C. Please explain why the development, adoption, implementation or revising of the policy, strategy or plan, or the design or the delivery of the public service, has not been influenced by the rural needs identified.

This project has considered the impacts on a range of existing and potential stakeholders. We do not consider this policy to have relevance to the social and economic needs of people in rural areas.

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Section 6 – Documenting and recording

6A. Please tick to confirm that the RNIA template will be retained by the public authority and relevant information on Section 1 activity compiled in accordance with paragraph 6.7 of the guidance.

Confirmation statement
I confirm that the RNIA Template will be retained and relevant information compiled.
Rural Needs Impact Assessment records Details
Rural Needs Impact Assessment undertaken by Simon Rees
Position or grade Project Support Officer
Division or branch City Regeneration and Development, Place and Economy Department
Date 20 September 2021
Rural Needs Impact Assessment approved by Adrian Ferguson
Position or grade Senior Development Manager
Division or branch City Regeneration and Development, Place and Economy Department
Date 20 September 2021

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