Monday, 21 March 2016

An Ideas Man

We just stumbled across this nugget on Auntie's webpage, it's very much worth a look:

In short, it's about a developer, one Mr Leibmann  who has managed to inject new life into a notorious part of Johannesburg.

"We specialise in taking a holistic, neighbourhood approach," said Mr Leibmann

Basically the redevelopment has revolved around improving the area rather than the more brutal approach usually endorsed by our own developers which is basically knock the place down and squeeze in as many houses and flats as possible.

Well done that man!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Before and After


“Ach! The place is a hole, kowp the lot of them!”

We hear  this a lot, so, without further eye-rolling ado, here’s some pictures of ‘before & after’ of various run down areas from around the globe, just to show you what CAN be done.

( Here’s some music while you peruse: )


(Also, check this, our willingness to knock down our architectural heritage is raising eyebrows globally, go us! )

Stanley Dock, Liverpool: Before

  After, now a hotel

New  York City



Sefton Park, Liverpool


Strand Cinema, Belfast


Pakenham St, Belfast


Round Foundry, Leeds


York River warehouse, UK.

And now for something slightly different:


As usual, here’s the helpful footer regarding the northside development: email the planning department with your thoughts:
Regeneration doesn't mean demolition.


Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Waiting Game

As you probably already know the intended plans for the ‘regeneration’ of the northside have been rejected albeit for reasons more administrative than protest based.

From the developer’s point of view this potentially means a case of just simply re-applying.

Furthermore, any signs of public discomfort at the original plans will more than likely result in a souped-up PR campaign rather than a back-to-the-drawing-board reappraisal of the original plans.

So, what next?

Well, let us dwell in a spot of speculation.

Imagine for a minute that you’re at the helm of a large property development consortium, what would YOU do?

1/ Pull the plug on the whole project – This would result in the loss of millions in potential profit. As mentioned previously the student apartment market is a rather lucrative market -

So, ‘NO’ would be the bookie’s favourite as the answer to this scenario

2/ Comply with public demands and come up with a more sympathetic plan for the area – As with the above argument this would reduce profit margins so again ‘no’.

3/ Wait.

 Sit on the properties.

Run the area down further.

 Let the PR hounds do their work and try to bring the public on board with simplistic and alarmist outcries:

After a while the politicians will need to be ‘seen to be doing something’ and will pressurise the planning department into approving the project.

That’s what I would do if it was my (large) profit margin at stake.

Simply. Wait.

And try again.

 Once students start kicking off because they have nowhere to live thanks to a bunch of ‘internet NIMBY’s’ then public opinion will do the rest.


“What do WE do then?”
Well, more on that later.
In the meantime, if you have any ideas or thoughts then let the planning office know:

Friday, 22 January 2016

Sunflower Awareness Gig

The Sunflower Pub which is at the ground zero of the redevelopment proposals for the Union st area is having an awareness gig tomorrow night (Sat 23rd).

The fun is pencilled in to kick off around 8pm.

It's located at the corner of Union & Kent Streets. Go on, you know you wanna.

Yup, this is the Sunflower too.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

CURRENT Northside Plans Deemed Refused

Emphasis on 'current', there's no reason why they won't resubmit the plans. But in the meantime check this out regarding the status of the current plans for the Northside regeneration:

Stay tuned for what happens next...

Ten things to do in Belfast

NOTE: The author is very aware that a similar guide could be written for most cities in the UK and Ireland (even Edinburgh) and that Belfast had other things to worry about BUT the post is about showing what we have lost and continue to lose even without the help of the Luftwaffe or IRA.


Belfast – A Top Ten Nine Eight Seven Six Things To See


So, you’ve just arrived in Belfast and on principle don’t read Lonely Planet books (though it would be fitting as one of the co-founders of LP is from Belfast).

So, what to do?

Well, read this guide for inspiration! (Note: It’s never updated, we just ‘scratch out’ that which no longer applies).

1/ Pubs – Some of Belfast’s bars go back centuries, tapping into a rich vein of socialising history.

Watering holes of note include the following beauties:

The Crown: It ain’t a tour guide if you don’t mention The Crown….


The Rotterdam Bar: Situated in a former deportation prison the Rotterdam offers a slice of history that would be difficult to rival in any part of the planet.

Aether and Echo: A Victorian drinking saloon where the fashions of yesteryear have been embraced and reinvigorated.

( For the time being anyway, mad rate-hikes threaten the business: )


The Sunflower: A quirky newcomer to the stage, already this wee pub is punching above its weight quite deservingly scooping ‘Pub of the Year’

NOTE: Get in while you still can, it’s in the firing line for redevelopment plans for the area.

Kelly’s Cellars: Another centuries old drinking haunt in the backstreets of Belfast providing the public with music, Guinness and lashings of sawdust.

(A close call as the powers-that-be planned to de-list it but backed down amid public outcry: )


The Kitchen Bar: A local favourite, the Kitchen bar has survived bombs from above and below to become an integral part of the city centre’s drinking scene

The Lifeboat: What it lacked in external beauty it makes-up for in internal character

So there you have it, no need to mention any more of Belfast’s pubs because if you can do all of the above in one sitting then you might want to consider the possibility that you have a problem….


2/ Theatres: Belfast has a rich history of performing arts, here are a few to slake your arty thirst:


The Grand Opera House: Perhaps Belfast’s best known theatre, this old theatre is still going strong.


The Empire Theatre: The roll of honour for this warhorse of a theatre is too much to mention here, simply go, you’ll not be disappointed


The Hippodrome: Despite its proximity to the Grand Opera House the Hippodrome still has plenty to offer those seeking their entertaining thrill

Theatre Royal: With history stretching back to 1793 this theatre will have you feeling as if you’re stepping into some bygone era.


3/ Ballrooms

The Floral Hall: A jewel in the crown of Belfast’s ballrooms, its setting within the grounds of the Zoo only serves to enhance this spectacular venue

The Plaza: This haunt, very much favoured by the American GIs in WWII is flooded with nostalgia

The Orpheus: Located in the Co-op building, this Art Deco gem is a worthy addition to any city and should be given consideration on the global stage


4/ Cinemas – The people of Belfast enjoy a good movie as much as anyone and as such are serviced by a great variety of movie theatres


The Strand: The mainstay of Belfast’s many Art Deco movie theatres The Strand caters for modern movies in a nostalgic setting

The Capitol: One of Belfast’s many Art Deco movie theatres, the Capitol enjoys a quiet setting for those willing to make the journey away from town

Queen’s Film Theatre:  This small independent theatre packs quite the cinematic punch

The Classic

5/ Homes of Belfast’s Big Names

For such a small city Belfast has a large number of household names. Take a tour of some of the big-wigs

George Best’s house: Still standing, Bestie’s East Belfast house is Mecca for fans of himself and Man U.

Red Hall, CS Lewis: Ulster’s physical connection to the special group of authors that changed the face of English literature

Seamus Heaney’s Belfast Home: How Blessed is Northern Ireland that it has more than one shrine to one of its global literary icons?!

Ardrigh House, home of Francis Bigger: A not so well known but nonetheless cultural heavyweight, the world of Francis Bigger was a potential springboard into new avenues of cultural enlightenment


6/ A Tour of Belfast’s Art Deco Architecture:
 Art Deco was seen as a rather illustrious style of architecture given the timeframe that it inhabited and was exemplified by Empire Exhibitions of the 1930’s. Truly this genre of architecture adds great weight to any city lucky enough to have it amongst its cityscape.

One of Royal Avenue’s many Art Deco gems



The Orpheus: As mentioned earlier, an architectural jewel in the crown

The quirky Art Deco ‘Elephants’ building

The Metropole: Though Belfast doesn’t boast many Art Deco buildings, what she has she holds and furthermore cherishes, as is only right with beauties such as this.


Bank of Ireland: An extraordinary Art Deco building

North St Arcade: One of the last examples of a a curved Art Deco arcade in Europe, this unique piece of architectural heritage demands respect, support and preservation

7/ Grand Hotels: Treat yourself to a night or two of splendour in one of Belfast’s grand hotels

Grand Central Hotel : Grand indeed, the GCH will cater for your every need in perfect luxury.

The Belgravia: A rival in every way for its London namesake.

8/ Eat: Belfast is stuffed with eateries, here are a few.

Harry Hall’s Bistro, Smithfield: The former bookshop now serves culinary treats as opposed to literary ones.

The Hudson Bar, Smithfield


Mourne Seafood Bar


9/ Stations: Depart in style in Belfast and feast your eyes on the architectural delights that are our main termini.

Great Northern Station: A fine setting for a farewell, the Northern Station is great in every sense of the word


York Road Station: This station survived the ravages of WWII and is well worth the detour


10/ Architectural Heritage: As a former engine room of the Empire, Belfast was bequeathed with a rich tapestry of architecture, earning it the title ‘Athens of the North’. Enjoy the building marvels as you meander around the city.




The point is, most of the buildings listed above disappeared thanks to people passively accepting the bidding of developers, town planners and the fashions of re-development & urban planning (granted, the Luftwaffe and IRA didn’t help either).

This is still happening and even though people in general aren’t happy about it they seldom protest against such acts.

If you want to see Belfast developed in a more sensitive fashion then simply email the planning office and tell them your thoughts (they don’t know if we don’t tell them):

If you’re super-miffed at the development plans for the area around Smithfield & Union (i.e. large scale demolition as opposed to restoration) then quote this ref no: LA04/2015/0577/O  and tell then you object.

If you’re even MORE  jolly-well-super-miffed then email and they’ll keep you abreast of matters and developments in the new year.
 We don’t expect everyone to agree on what should be done with the areas in question rather we think it’s fair to assume that we can all agree on what should NOT be done with the area e.g. taking a wrecking ball to everything that looks a bit old and unloved (as is the plan for the area around Union St and Kent St )