Develop, Not Demolish

Develop, Not Demolish

#SaveCQ campaign calls on supporters to respond to latest proposed phase of Royal Exchange development

The #SaveCQ campaign group is calling on members of the public to lodge their objections to the current plans for “Phase 1b” of the proposed new Royal Exchange development in Belfast city centre, before the consultation deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 18 July.

Made up of businesses, arts organisations and members of the community in the Cathedral Quarter area of Belfast, #SaveCQ undertook an initial high-profile wave of activity in April which called on site owners Castlebrooke Investments to “Develop, Not Demolish” almost 12 acres of city centre buildings.  The results generated over 2,200 objections to the current Royal Exchange redevelopment proposal in just one week.

Rebekah McCabe, Chair of the #SaveCQ campaign group summarised the group’s concerns with the current “Phase 1b” proposals:

“Just two weeks ago, Castlebrooke Investments announced another stage of pre-planning consultation, for what they are terming ‘Phase 1b’ of the development. The proposals for this phase encompass a parcel of land from North Street, extending across the car park towards Rosemary Street, taking in part of Royal Avenue.

If this phase gets planning permission in its current form, it will have a domino effect on the rest of the site.  The historic buildings on North Street will be under greater threat, permanently changing the face of the Cathedral Quarter, one of the city’s most vibrant, dynamic and unique areas.

We recognise how badly this area needs development, but there are serious issues with the Royal Exchange scheme in its current form, including:

• phasing the scheme – this serves the investors’ financial interests, while handing the greater element of risk on to the city and its people.

• an unnecessary, unsuitable and completely outdated focus on office and retail space

• poor provision for residential units in a city which urgently needs housing

• no space for small traders and no cultural provision or space in an area which is already internationally successful for this activity

• lack of meaningful community engagement

• numerous breaches of conservation area guides and built heritage planning policy

• standing in direct opposition to Belfast City Council’s expressed ambitions to enhance Belfast’s distinctiveness, by celebrating its arts and culture; its liveability, by providing amenities and good quality public spaces, and their goal of bringing a further 70,000 people to live in the city.

Our aim is to draw attention to the scheme’s weaknesses so that they can be urgently addressed by Castlebrooke Investments and by Belfast City Council.”

For further information on the #SaveCQ campaign and to find out how to lodge your objection to the current “Phase 1b” proposal, join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/saveCQBelfast/, #SaveCQ on Twitter or visit www.savecq.wordpress.com.  The deadline to submit your response is 5pm on Tuesday 18 July.

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