Belfast’s Great Victoria Street ‘craves regeneration’, say councilors


Acting as a gateway between South Belfast and the city center, Great Victoria Street is one of the city’s busiest roads and is home to iconic landmarks such as the Europa Hotel and the Grand Opera House.

And while the closer end of the city center is full of businesses and hospitality spots that draw locals and tourists alike, advisers say the upper end near Shaftesbury Square has been a victim of migration from the nighttime economy to other areas of Belfast such as the Cathedral Quarter. .

There are still a number of successful businesses operating at this end of Great Victoria Street, but much of the area has been left abandoned with dilapidated store signs being the only reminder of what was.

What was once a thriving business and hospitality district is now filled with empty stores covered in graffiti

Despite its proximity to Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter with thousands of students entering and leaving the city center and the busy Dublin Road that runs along it, much of the street is marked with graffiti, doors and boarded up windows and empty business units in need of regeneration.

Among the dilapidated buildings is the old Shaftesbury Square Hospital, next to the Go petrol station, which opened in 1867 as the Belfast Ophthalmic Institution and Eye and Ear Hospital. But it has become run down since it closed in 2010, with much of its Victorian features obscured by graffiti.

The old Shaftesbury Square hospital has collapsed since it closed in 2010

Local advisers say the region “needs to be regenerated” and could become a “real” must-see “” for hospitality and business if the right investments are made.

South Belfast SDLP Councilor Gary McKeown said: “It is sad to see such a historic and once thriving part of our city going through difficult times, with many buildings condemned. it has beautiful red brick townhouses, is perfectly located between Queen’s and the city center and is close to three train stations and a bus center, making it the ideal location for residents and tourists alike. visitors to the city.

“Sadly, as the nightlife economy and restaurant scene have migrated to other parts of the city, this stretch of Great Victoria Street has fallen victim to this change. There are still large local businesses in the area, but generally they are thin on the floor.

“Neighborhood regeneration projects have been flowing for several years, but still seem to be confined to the drawing board. People are tired of waiting and want to see some action.

“It is also essential that any program includes organizations such as the Forward South Partnership at the heart of the process to give a voice to the communities of South Belfast and help ensure that any redevelopment complements the larger area rather than separate from it.

Cllr Gary McKeown is hoping this street area can once again become the bustling business hub it once was

“With creativity, vision and drive, we could once again see this region become a hub for business, hospitality and life, but we need decisive action to make it happen. “

Cllr Áine Groogan added: “It is very sad to see what was once known as ‘the Golden Mile’ become so run down and left to decay and ruin. It is one of the main streets in the center. -City, it should be a prosperous neighborhood where people live, work and play.

“I think we have a real opportunity to reinvent our city and give it some life again. We need to move away from the automotive dominance of our inner city and create a connected and vibrant Belfast for people and communities.

“I think we need to start looking at giving regenerative powers to the city council to allow us to move into areas like this that are calling for regeneration. Leaving those powers to the Ministry of Communities clearly isn’t working when a such and such a part of our main town was allowed to pass by the side of the road like this.

“This area needs investment, but I would like it to be used a little more creatively than what we have seen elsewhere in the city center. I would like to see a regeneration that protects the built heritage there. low, which encourages small businesses and which creates a green and welcoming space for the surrounding community.

“As we have seen too often in Belfast, development can cut off inner city communities and create a clinical and corporate space that is not particularly inviting and we cannot allow that to happen either.”

“I would like to see a regeneration that protects the built heritage there, which encourages small businesses”

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: “Belfast City Council has the power to tackle dilapidated buildings which are considered to be seriously detrimental to the amenity of the area and our cleaning team can also remove them. offensive or threatening graffiti.

“We have developed a ‘Future City Center’ program to guide regeneration interventions aimed at addressing key issues such as vacant properties, connectivity, the public realm and the promotion of development opportunities.

“We continue to work with our partners in the public and private sector to revitalize the city center and to propose initiatives that capitalize on the main public and private investments proposed and initiated. “

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