Beyond the Peace Lines - inclusivity and community understanding of parks/green infrastructure in Belfast Northern Ireland

Authors: Ian Mell*, University of Manchester
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Perception, Planning Geography
Keywords: Green infrastructure, community, segregation, parks, local government
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Public spaces in Belfast prior to the Good Friday Agreement were subject to extensive disruption due to ongoing sectarianism. The city was partitioned along ethno-cultural lines leading to socio-physical exclusion from sections of the city for Catholic, Protestant and non-denomination communities. The defensive architecture of the Peace Walls/Lines were the most prominent articulation of this division, and came to symbolise Belfast as a segregated and violent city. Contemporary evaluations of Belfast ask whether the city’s regeneration, expressed through the Belfast Agenda, have redefined the city’s landscape using its ‘cultural legacies’ to rebrand city as a city open for investment. This is timely as Belfast City Council are currently developing their strategic investment plan, the Belfast Agenda, of which parks are an integral part. Moreover, the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement provides scope to reflect on whether the interceding years have facilitated a more inclusive discussion, use and valuation of the city’s parks. Within this discussion parks are one of the most significant and spatially diverse forms of public space, which have been largely overlooked in Belfast. The seminar will explore how these dynamic narratives reinforce these historical interpretations of ‘landscape’ in Belfast and asks whether parks can be conceptualised as apolitical and inclusive places.

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