The deadline for objecting to the next phase of the Royal Exchange development is MONDAY. There's not much time.
There's a ton of info about what's wrong with the plan and how to object on the #SaveCQ page, and here's mine. (DON'T cut and paste it, it won't be listened to unless you take a bit of time to write your own)
Planning Application Ref: LA04/2017/2126/F
To Whom it may concern,
I am writing to object to the planning application above. I am a resident in Belfast and make my living in the area in question. On a personal and professional level I believe that this proposal is clearly made with no thought to the long term health of the city and it’s residents and is driven exclusively by the desire of the London based developers to extract as much money out of the city. I consider it to be the planning role of Belfast City Council’s to provide protection from such naked profiteering and ensure that developers add value to the city and service the development we need not just the development that makes the most money for the developers.
Specifically as a sole trader working in the area I am particularly concerned about the economic impact that this will have on me and other small businesses working in the area. Belfast’s retail core already has a vacancy rate of 17% - in short we don’t need more big shops. Or offices for that matter. We need housing, arts provision and retail suitable for small businesses.
But more than that it’s not just about the retail focus, it’s about the poor design aesthetic of the plan. They are cookie cutter buildings that could be anywhere. Another office/shopping centre we don’t need in the centre of the one area of the city that everyone agrees has the most unique character, (a character which allows me to make a living). The motivation for this is clear. The developer believes that this is the easiest way to make the most money in the shortest period of time. They will talk about investment and job creation but in the long term this will add nothing to our city and benefit no-one but the London based developers.
Belfast’s Cultural Framework says that ‘we will connect people to the city, it’s stories, places, arts and heritage’ and ‘place culture, arts and heritage at the heart of Belfast’s ongoing narrative’.
I believe this application needs to be seen in this context. There is no sense of place, there is merely a ‘will this do’ aesthetic. It lacks a knowledge of or sympathy for the city it wishes to inhabit. It shows no awareness of the cultural context or how this plan will impact on the ecosystem of the surrounding city. It’s too high, too close to important heritage sites and out of step with what we need.
In addition this application needs to be seen in the context of the larger plan for the area. This footprint could easily facilitate the anchor tenant that the developer believes is the key to the plan and if it’s not here then it will most likely be on the footprint of the North Street Arcade requiring the demolition internally of that important building.
Finally while there was a pre-planning consultation which I and a number of Belfast residents contributed to, this application pays no attention to ANY of the concerns raised at that stage. The process was conducted in early July, many residents I spoke to had no notification and when I did raise concerns at the event in the Mac I was told that the plan represented an economic reality - as if this rendered my concerns moot.
In short the economic interests of developers, architects, corporations and PR companies, none of whom are from Belfast, are being put ahead of the interests of the people who live here.
This can be seen in the way that they conducted the consultation, the way that they have tried to promote the development in the following months and it is writ large all across this application that bears no resemblance to the sort of development that will workfor Belfast.
Because of this and because I believe that this plan directly goes against the Belfast Agenda, the Cultural Framework, The Urban Design Framework of BMAP, The Strategic Planning Policy Statement andThe Belfast City Centre Conservation Area Guide I would urge Belfast City Council to reject this proposal in it’s current form.
It’s a slap in the face not an economic reality.