Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 2 - Belfast


Construction scheme (future)
To remove all traffic (except Rapid Transit) from Donegall Place and Donegall Square North, Belfast and create a public square.
Total Length
Donegall Place - 0.2 km / 0.13 miles
Donegall Square North - 0.16 km / 0.10 miles

30 Sep 2010 - Proposed as part of "Belfast on the Move" scheme

21 Feb 2012 - Design firm appointed to produce concept designs
29 Jun 2012 - Public consultation held

2013 - initial designs to be completed

22 Apr 2012 - Project mothballed by DSD
No firm timescale for construction as of Mar 2012

None currently
See Also
Official web site for Belfast On the Move - DRD
Belfast Rapid Transit System - on this site
1. Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 1 - on this site
2. Sustainable Transport Enabling Measures - on this site
3. Rapid Transit Enabling Measures - on this site
4. City Centre Ring Road Southern Section - on this site
6. Transforming the City Centre Ring Road - on this site

Belfast is currently undertaking a long-term scheme to redirect general traffic flows out of Belfast city centre, in order to permit a greater role for buses, rapid transit, pedestrians and cycling. Called Belfast on the Move, the work is being carried out in six phases, of which this scheme is the fifth:
  1. Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 1
  2. Sustainable Transport Enabling Measures (STEM)
  3. Rapid Transit Enabling Measures
  4. City Centre Ring Road Southern Section
  5. Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 2
  6. Transforming the City Centre Ring Road

At the time of writing (Jan 2012) the east-west routes around City Hall are used by high volumes of traffic attempting to pass through the central area of the city to destinations outside the central area. According to Stephen Pollock from Roads Service, 16,000 vehicles per day pass behind City Hall, and 14,000 in front of it. Of these 60% has no destination in the city centre.

DRD feel that this traffic is inappropriate in such a key location, and eventually wish to remove it. The plan is to divert all this traffic onto a more southerly route (phase 5 of the six phases above). Once done, this will allow the streets around City Hall to be devoted almost entirely to public transport.

A key aspect of the plan is to remove all traffic (except Rapid Transit) off Donegall Square North and Donegall Place and turn the entire area in front of City Hall into an iconic pedestrianised public square. All of these proposals are shown in this DRD map, which is correct as of 2011:

DRD Image from here.


22 Apr 2013: Although design work has been underway now for some months, the Social Development Minister announced last week that this scheme has now been put on hold. The reason for this is the imminent development of the University of Ulster Belfast campus on York Street and the nearby Royal Exchange project, both of which mean that it is more prudent to carry out a Streets Ahead scheme north of the city centre. The Minister said therefore "I have decided to suspend work on Phase 2 of the Belfast: Streets Ahead programme and have instructed my officials to commence work on a third phase, concentrating on the area from Royal Avenue out to the proposed new university campus." He also said that he "hope[s] to be in position to revisit this project in the future" which basically gives no firm commitment to progressing with this scheme. Since this scheme is intimately linked to the City Centre Ring Road (Southern Section), it seems fair to conclude that that project will not happen in the foreseeable future either.

12 Dec 2012: Apparently McAdam Design have now come up with five options for what could be done under this scheme. The study is due to be completed in 2013, but there will be an event at the PLACE Architecture and Built Environment Centre in Belfast on 23 January where representatives from the team will set out what they have done so far, and take questions. The event is free, but requires booking (see link above). It now seems that the City Centre Ring Road (Southern Section), which is an associated project, hinges on the outcome of Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 2, since the scale of the southern section of the ring road will be dependent on how much traffic is removed from Donegal Square. See the page for the City Centre Ring Road (Southern Section) for more.

16 Jul 2012: A consultation event took place in Belfast City Hall on 29th June. This is the first event since McAdam Design were appointed in March (see below) so was more about getting opinions than presenting proposals. The below photo was taken before the event, and from what is visible of the artwork, it does indeed concentrate on the area around City Hall and the streetscapes therein.

Photo: Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland pictured with Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson announcing an open consultation event to highlight development. [NI Executive]

3 Mar 2012: The Department of Social Development issued a press release a fortnight ago, announcing that McAdam Design has been awarded a 0.9m contract to develop a concept design for this scheme, ie for developing the iconic public square in front of City Hall. The preferred design is to be submitted "by 2013". It suggests that the flow of buses shown on the map above may not be set in stone, when it says: "One of the exciting opportunities includes getting a better balance between buses and pedestrians in the area, which ultimately could lead to the removal of buses from around the city hall or alternatively not having them continually parked in the area but simply dropping passengers off and collecting them."