A city is like a piece of fabric. Its elements are not isolated, but carefully threaded together. Each building has social and physical elements that enhance the image of the city. In Belfast the identification of areas of environmental coherence is quite difficult, as many buildings have been demolished causing a dramatic change in the social and physical environment of the city centre. The unprecedented amount of demolition of non-listed buildings has interfered with the connectivity between streets, leaving void and derelict spaces. New projects seem to impose themselves on the city, interrupting the coherence of the urban stitching that makes the city. This has raised public concern as a considerable amount of Belfast’s built heritage has either been lost or is at risk of being lost. Although the city has been undergoing major changes, which can be argued as either positive or negative; the Department of Environment and Council’s planning policies are enabling the decisions and failing to retain the historic character of the city.
In a city that has ample vacant development land the continuing destruction of Belfast’s historic building stock is now at concerning levels. Where planning permission must be obtained to demolish a building for development to a new build, the example for the redevelopment of North Street and the recent bulldozed Historic Builder’s Yard due to a “fire”, demonstrates how vulnerable vernacular buildings are within the city centre.
Below are a few images taken from my dissertation, “Today’s Presence, Tomorrow’s Absence” which show some of the unnecessary destruction within the city centre.