Belfast City joining forces with Design Clips within UP2030 project


25 February 2024


Belfast City Council & Design Clips

Through UP2030, Belfast seeks to create a framework that will be applied in all its regeneration projects that integrates tree planting, green infrastructure, play and co-design with young people. The framework will be tested in the Linen Quarter district, which has been identified of becoming the first sustainable and net zero business district in Northern Ireland. Lessons learned from this pilot will be useful to identify opportunities in other neighbourhoods and upscale the concept of net-zero districts across the city. Furthermore, the municipality aims to address the fragmentation in terms of governance and delivery, embedding this project in the upcoming update of Belfast’s Community Plan ‘The Belfast Agenda’.

Recently, the city of Belfast organized various workshops – “Living Labs” (LLs) - to inform the local stakeholders about the UP2030 project and collaboratively shape the project's interventions. During these workshops, participants identified key challenges within their areas, voiced their needs, and shared aspirations for their neighborhoods. The highlighted priority urban challenges were : lack of green spaces, numerous vacant and derelict areas within the neighborhoods, lack of playgrounds and recreational spaces for families, high rates of mental illnesses in adults, lack of trust in government, lack of community’s buy in for neighborhood’s public spaces.

A key outcome of the aforementioned workshops was the participants’ agreement on the need for quality green spaces, and interventions such as community gardens in the neighborhoods as a way to enhance the neighborhoods’ public space quality while addressing the local environmental and social challenges. More specifically, it was mentioned that the success of Donegall Pass community garden has had a positive impact in citizens’ lives and has been recognized as a successful initiative by neighboring communities.

The city of Belfast teamed up with Design Clips, an urban design studio focusing on participatory planning approaches, to actively engage children and youth in the design of strategic small scale urban interventions that aim to improve the spatial and environmental quality of the Linen Quarter District. Based on the community workshops outcomes, the activities will focus on the co-creation of community gardens in selected neighborhoods addressing several topics from environmental design, mobility and accessibility, air quality, to practices for growing food locally and fostering youth-led initiatives. The participatory approach will include tools and methods tailored to the specific needs and language of the target groups and will be delivered through interactive activities. The outcomes of the participatory activities will be processed and translated into design guidelines and urban design solutions.

The overarching vision of this project is to create safer, greener, and more pleasant public spaces for children and youth growing up in Belfast through their active involvement in shaping the future of their city.

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