Atkins completes first phases of major new regeneration programme for Belfast
Belfast, a city rich in historical and cultural diversity, is undergoing a historic programme of transformation to compete as a European city of choice. The £20 million investment, the city’s most significant to date, is being put into creating a more captivating and inviting city centre. The project, Belfast Streets Ahead (BSA), is already delivering real benefits, with new businesses and tenants choosing to invest in the city.
Much of the project area falls within Belfast’s designated conservation area. BSA seeks to deliver a responsive and contemporary environment, looking to the future whilst being respectful of the past. It aims to create sustainable spaces, seeking the right balance to deliver a visually appealing and stimulating city, whilst being capable of accommodating the many associated city management activities together with planned and impromptu events and celebrations. This requires flexibility which is inherent in the designs. The spaces themselves are simple and clutter free providing ease of movement.
Sustainability is key. The overall composition of the principal paving surfaces have been considered, examining options for construction methods which best address the performance requirements and particular site conditions. This minimises onsite construction activities such as cutting of slabs and setts, thereby reducing labour requirements and significantly reducing noise and dust pollutants, a primary cause of concern for those affected by the works during construction.
A unique challenge for sustainability was the presence of an existing and extensive concrete sub-base road slab. The slab was examined to determine what could be retained and re-used thus reducing excavation requirements. Associated street components such as seating, lighting, bollards, bins and cycle racks were reviewed to determine their sustainability with regards to use of recycled materials or their ability to be recycled in later years. This life-cycle costing and performance is a fundamental aspect of the project. This proactive approach to sustainability has already been recognised with a Ceequal Excellent Rating for the Oultine Design Stage. The durability, maintenance and management requirements of all specifications have been embedded into the design process.
This holistic approach delivers well considered, robust and sustainable public realm improvements that will last and benefit today’s users and future generations to come.