“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realised. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble logical diagram (plan) once recorded will not die”.
– Daniel Burnham, American Architect and Planner, 1846-1912
The Greater Shankill Greenway is a big plan that aims high, both literally and figuratively, but also has deep roots in the community.
In the Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Action Plan, the theme of Arterial routes and Environment has six specific actions to deliver physical & economic renewal to the Greater Shankill.
One of these actions was the requirement of a Regeneration Framework for the Greater Shankill (SRF). This plan was delivered at the request of DSD, in November 2008, by The Paul Hogarth Company. One of the six strategic components within the SRF was a ‘Community Greenway’. The Greenway highlights potential for the Greater Shankill to capitalise on its natural landscape and provide a citywide connection between Belfast and its hills, whilst greatly benefiting the Greater Shankill area.
At the Community Convention in April/May 2009 the SRF was on display as one the strategies proposed by the Partnership for regeneration. This display, more than most, attracted the attention of the Convention’s attendees and participants.
A lively debate was had by the participants and the consultants of the SRF, around the various components within it. To this end, the Partnership secured funding from SIB to deliver an Outline Business Case with an Economic Appraisal (OBC/EA).
This Outline Business Case has since been produced with accompanying Concept Plan and appendices.
The Greenway Plan can be viewed as a number of stepping stones, from Peter’s Hill to the Belfast Hills. The Greater Shankill Greenway was not designed to be delivered in one large project, but rather delivered individually to connect-up as a whole.
Shankill Road Streetscape
To ensure continuity between each of the stepping stone projects, a structured and consistently designed streetscape will be established along the full extent of the Community Greenway. Streetscape improvement works to the Shankill Road include the replacement and realignment of existing pavements, high quality surface materials, new signage, lighting, street furniture and tree planting.
In January 2017, Department for Communities held a consultation outlining plans of a public works project which will deliver the Shankill Road Streetscape proposal.
Peter’s Hill / North St. Gateway
In order to alleviate the severance currently caused by the Carrick Hill/Millfield dual carriage way, pedestrian priority measures are proposed at the junction of Peter’s Hill and North Street. The combination of high traffic flows and sheer physical size (four to five lanes wide), has resulted in this route becoming a major physical constraint to pedestrian connections between the Greater Shankill area and the City Centre.
This stepping stone project proposes the creation of a new landmark pedestrian bridge at this location spanning the width of the dual carriageway. This bridge would allow safe pedestrian and bicycle movements and become the primary gateway link between the established Shankill community and City Centre, extending the perceived ‘civic space’.
Westlink Bridge Gateway
Given the width of the Westlink at this point, this stretch of the Shankill Road represents a clear pinchpoint and a hostile environment from a pedestrian point of view. To remove this pinchpoint and reinforce the user’s awareness of their journey along the Greenway, it is proposed that the existing footpaths on either side of the Shankill Road are widened over the full extent of its span across the Westlink.
These wider footpath sections, which are intended to be fully landscaped and tree lined, will enhance pedestrian connectivity between the city centre and Shankill Road as well as assist in abating noise and air pollution levels arising from the Westlink at peak times.
Townsend St. Park
Three new development sites have been identified immediately north of the church site, which together with existing residential units along Greenland Street help to define, and set a context for, the proposed urban park. The end result will be the renewal of Townsend Street and the physical reconnection
of Townsend Presbyterian Church with its community.
The works proposed at this location complement those proposals contained within the Lower Shankill Physical Regeneration Concept Masterplan, commissioned and developed by the Department for Social Development as part of the Renewing Communities Agenda.
Early Years / Filling Station Site
An increased provision of health and wellbeing uses is focussed along this central stretch of the Shankill Road. This focus of services, located on both sides of the Shankill Road, are presently in the mid stages and will ultimately comprise the Health and Wellbeing Centre, the Shankill Leisure Centre, the
Shankill Early Years Centre, the Shankill Youth Club and links to the Shankill Women’s Centre which has been extended and refurbished within the last decade.
Saint Michael’s Quarter
St Michael’s Parish Church, located at the end of Craven Street just off the Shankill Road, occupies a site which sits immediately adjacent to numerous surface car parks, playing fields and razed sites which do little to elevate the setting of the Church.
Proposals at this location include the identification of a number of development sites based around a network of new streets and laneways. These proposals will help to restore much needed activity to this stretch of the Shankill Road resulting in new development that clearly defines public and private space, centred on St Michael’s Church.
Shankill Road Mission Building
Boasting significant architectural merit, the Shankill Road Mission is an important landmark building along the Shankill Road. Due to the close proximity of the Mission to the Shankill Leisure Centre and the new Health and Well Being Centre, significant opportunity exists for this building to play a key role
in the concentration of health, community and leisure services at this key node.
Agnes St. / Northumberland St. Gateway
The potential exists to establish a new gateway at the point at which Agnes Street and Northumberland Street meet the Shankill Road. This important junction presently fails to capitalise on its importance as the intersection where strategic connections from the north and west of the City meet on the Shankill Road.
The existing Co-Op building includes an open surface car park along its northern edge, which has effectively detached the building from the Shankill Road. The Greenway proposes that any future redevelopment of this site should strive to redefine the existing buildings footprint in order to bridge this gap by providing active frontages directly onto the Shankill Road and reconfiguring associated car parking and servicing to the rear of the building.
Argyle Business Centre Open Space
This project aims to improve links between the Shankill Road and Argyle Business Centre.
High quality surface treatment is proposed along the western edge of North Howard Street in order to strengthen the pedestrian links between the Argyle Business Centre and the Shankill Road. The relationship between the Argyle Business Centre and the Shankill Road will also be strengthened by the
incorporation of streetscape improvements along the eastern edge of North Howard Street.
West Kirk Church Park
The open space immediately adjacent to West Kirk Church has been identified as a prime location within which to locate a new play park serving children, youth groups and young people.
Nelson Memorial Urban Square
This site lies adjacent to the Nelson Memorial Church and includes the full extent of land between Sugarfield Street and Mountjoy Street. It is envisaged that this Square, which would be bounded by the Shankill Library building along its western edge, would formalise a new heart for the Shankill community and elevate the setting of the Memorial Church.
In addition, it would provide a purpose built centrally located event space within which the community can come together for civic functions and performances. Representing a transformational project, the Urban Square would aim to provide a physical focus or heart of the Shankill, incorporating bespoke lighting, seating, landscaping and artwork with high quality surface treatment throughout including
the span of the Shankill Road at this point.
Tennent Street Gateway
Tennent Street, a well used connection from the north of the City, has been subject to some regeneration and refurbishment work, most notably the establishment of the Spectrum Centre
at its junction with the Shankill Road and more recently shop front improvement works directly opposite. However what is immediately apparent at this intersection is the presence of a number of razed sites and vacated commercial premises, which do little to contribute positively to the area’s gateway potential.
Farset River Opening & Shankill Rest Garden
Despite having been superseded by the River Lagan as Belfast’s most important river, the Greenway advocates that the symbolism of the Farset River, as the river on which the city was built, does not go unnoticed. The origins of Belfast’s name Béal Feirste which literally means the ‘Mouth of the Farset’ highlights the illustrious history of this river, the banks of which became the first quaysides of the developing merchant city.
The aim of this project is to elevate the status of this historic stretch of river as a community asset for the Greater Shankill area. Details of the proposed works include ensuring direct connection between the Rest Garden’s existing footpaths and the River and creating a community endorsed cultural art piece,
entitled ‘The Path of Reflection’.
Lanark Way Gateway
Lanark Way, which at present is proliferated with razed sites, should play a greater role in the area, given its strategic importance as a key gateway to the Shankill area from the west. Proposals contained within the Greenway include the identification of development sites on each side of Lanark Way at its junction with the Shankill Road.
Saint Matthew’s Church
A much loved landmark located at the junction of Woodvale Road and Cambrai Street, St Matthew’s Church was rebuilt in 1872 and is successor to a church which sat in the grounds of the Shankill Graveyard. The layout of the church is described architecturally as ‘trefoil’, which literally means ‘three leafed plant’ but can apply to other symbols of three-fold shapes.
These works would comprise the replacement of the existing asphalt surfacing, which surrounds the Church, with high quality surface materials and the removal of the existing railings along Woodvale Road and Cambrai Street in order to open up the grounds of the church. The full consent and cooperation of the Church would be required in relation to any proposals for this area.
Located along the Springfield Road, the Farset International Hostel was established in 2003 on a derelict site that commands impressive panoramic views overlooking the Springfield Dam.
Plans are emerging to revitalise the adjoining Springfield Dam as a centre for sailing, whilst also enhancing it for wildlife and fishing. Proposals within this project include streetscape renewal proposals along the upper stretch of the Springfield Road linking the International and Dam to the Springvale section of the Greenway.
Ballygomartin Bridge Throughpass
Confluence of Ballygomartin & Forth Rivers
Ballygomartin Rd. Streetcape