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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Maurice Fitzmaurice

Belfast Mackies site housing plan wins award

Images have been released of an architect’s vision for hundreds of homes at the old Mackies site in West Belfast.

The artist’s impressions emerged after London-based Matthew Lloyd Architects won a Belfast urban design competition run by Take Back the City who are campaigning for homes to be built at the 25 acre space on the Springfield Road.

Call for homes to be built at the site have been ongoing for years, but have been rejected by Belfast Council. The land is not ‘zoned’ for housing, but campaigners have said that can be changed with ‘political will’. Belfast Council has started work on a section of urban greenway at the site - a move campaigners say has been given undue priority over homes.

Read more: Mackie's housing campaigners fail on third attempt to stop greenway at site

Archirect, Mr Lloyd, however says that homes can co-exist with the greenway. As well as around 900 homes, he says the site can be ‘mixed use’ with some light industry and even a city farm.

The international urban design competition was launched last May “to demonstrate how the former Mackies site, off Springfield Road, could be transformed to tackle the growing housing crisis and escalating poverty in North and West Belfast”.

Out of 11 entries shortlisted from across the globe, Lloyd’s was selected as the winner “because it delivered a design which promotes connectivity, links between communities, sustainability and habitability”.

Lloyd’s practice has worked on a range of developments including mixed-tenure housing, churches and community buildings, mainly in east London.

On Monday, a £10,000 prize, sponsored by the Oak Foundation, was awarded to Matthew Lloyd himself at Forthspring Inter Community Group adjacent to Mackies, where campaigners have been working with local communities to develop the proposals for the site.

Matthew Lloyd said: “What really motivated us to compete was the socially-oriented nature of the project. The brief for this competition was not your typical architect’s brief; it was people-centred and truly appealing.

“Collaboration will be key in bringing this plan to life on the site, and we are excited to get involved and showcase what can be achieved.”

Marissa McMahon of Take Back the City said: “We held this competition because our local housing system is completely broken, and local authorities are either unable or unwilling to develop effective ideas to reduce the ever growing housing waiting lists in our communities. We looked beyond our borders for the best the world has to offer and were overwhelmed by the quality of designs.

“Matthew Lloyd and his team perfectly addressed the brief developed by families in housing need. His design was endorsed in an unparalleled process of community engagement which included hundreds of local people in public events and thousands more online before being judged by an international panel of experts.

“Working with Matthew and his team we will now submit the plan for the approval of local council and the support of elected representatives. Council’s local development plan provides a framework for the people of Belfast to participate in decisions about how our land is used.

“We do not need to suffer a housing crisis. We do not need to suffer a cost of living crisis. We have a choice. We can build a sustainable city, without walls, where every child has a home and that is what the Take Back the City plan aims to achieve.”

To view the winning design, visit:


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