From the early settlement located at the point where the River Lagan met the Rivers Farset and Blackstaff, the city of Belfast has long had a maritime connection. Belfast developed around these rivers, configuring them into culverts, docks, quays and slipways before they become harbour then lough then sea. The area once dominated by shipyards is now one of Europe’s largest waterfront regeneration sites with millions of visitors every year, while the busy Harbour handles millions of tonnes of cargo.
The Maritime Belfast Trust is committed to helping the development of the city’s historic waterfront as a place for everyone to enjoy. We work with a range of local organisations including Belfast Harbour, Belfast City Council and Titanic Quarter Limited, national bodies such as Tourism NI and Arts Council for Northern Ireland as well as key government departments including Department for Community, Department for Economy and Department for Infrastructure. We also engage with local businesses to stimulate networking, collaboration and destination clustering.
We continually review the many strategies and policies that impact on the development of the city’s waterfront and look to other maritime cities such as Hamburg, Amsterdam and Copenhagen to learn lessons from others.
We have commissioned several reports including the Titanic Quarter Destination Plan. The three themes – A Connected Place, A Vital Place for Visitors and A Place that Heritage Counts have driven much of our work to date and continue to do so.
Earlier this year we commissioned Turley Associates to undertake an audit of 50 projects that have been submitted to planning over the last ten years or in the process of being submitted. If all these proposals are realised, £1.5 billion will be invested into Belfast’s waterfront area, generating jobs, residents and attract a further 1 million new visitors. Many of these projects will have an element of public realm, and at a minimum level we estimate that over 70,500m 2 will be enhanced.
Connecting the waterfront
One of our key priorities is to influence the development of this public realm as a seamless, vibrant, connected experience – to establish a shared vision across all stakeholders and influencers. We have kickstarted this process with the development of the Maritime Mile.