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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast students blocks pedestrianisation plan outlined at City Hall

Plans have emerged for street pedestrianisation around student accommodation blocks close to the new Ulster University York Street.

Belfast City Council has revealed early stage proposals for a public realm scheme, involving pedestrianisation for all but servicing vehicles, at Little York Street and Little Patrick Street, around the four student accommodation blocks built to cater for the new University of Ulster campus.

At the council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee this week, elected members agreed emerging design proposals for a proposed “place making” scheme at Little York Street/Little Patrick Street and the Lancaster Street entrance.

Read more: Lower North Belfast at a disadvantage in getting grants, councillor says

Recent student accommodation block developments at Little York Street and Little Patrick Street are home to around 4,000 students, adjacent to existing communities in the Lancaster Street area. The new student blocks are within a very hard landscaped area on the fringe of the city centre with little local amenities.

The council report states: “The proposed public realm scheme at Little York Street/Little Patrick Street is situated within an area bound by Great Patrick Street, York Street, Great George’s Street and Nelson Street, and dissects four managed student accommodation buildings, and is a two minute walk to the newly constructed University of Ulster campus.”

It adds: “The concept design looks to achieve the safe movement of pedestrians and cyclists through the area by adopting a 'quiet street' approach by pedestrianising Little Patrick Street (West) and Little York Street (South) by implementing a physical restriction/road closure, first by temporary closure, then by abandonment and a one-way traffic system proposed for Little York Street (North) and Little Patrick Street (East), which would see vehicular traffic come off the main road network at Great Georges Street and exit at Nelson Street.”

The report states the plan will create “enhanced public footways, with subtle lighting positioned under seated planters” which will “deter anti-social behaviour while also respecting that students live here adjacent to a local community.” The plan also involves rain gardens which will “add greening to an urban setting and reduce rainfall runoff, mitigating the impact of pollution.”

The report adds: “The area has become densely populated, and these streets are critical public spaces that should serve as extensions of living spaces, enabling and enhancing the interaction of new and existing neighbourhood residents in order to sustain a sense of community.

“Little Patrick Street and Little York Street is often used as a shortcut for traffic accessing the city core and has been identified as a source of late-night noise due to excessive and loud traffic through the streets.

“The scheme will also bring forward proposals in conjunction with the local community to address the connection into the local Lancaster Street community area, to enhance the character of the area, and to improve the connection to the emerging Frederick Street Junction.”

At the committee meeting, when asked why the streets could not receive full pedestrianisation, with no vehicular access, an officer replied: “We still need to retain access for servicing from bin lorries deliveries etc.”

He added: “There are 4,000 students in there, those blocks need to be managed and delivered for student drop-offs and collections. We will be really restricting it and making it very unattractive for vehicles to move through, so it really will be just service and delivery for the blocks.”


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