Improving Places projects

The Department has responsibility for a number of different projects that aim to improve places in order to bring about regeneration and lasting change to areas across Northern Ireland. These are some examples of the individual projects that we are in the process of delivering.

Belfast Streets Ahead Phase 3

Belfast: Streets Ahead is a programme which aims to renew the public streets and spaces in Belfast City Centre. This third phase concentrates on the area from Royal Avenue out to the new Ulster University campus at York Street. 

The Department for Communities has appointed McAdam Design Ltd to lead a multi disciplined team for the Belfast: Streets Ahead scheme to take forward plans to link the city centre to the Ulster University’s development. It will complement the works completed during the Belfast: Streets Ahead Phase 1, which upgraded and transformed 14 streets in the commercial and retail centre of Belfast, as well as the recently completed Bank Square Project.  

The Belfast: Streets Ahead Phase 3 scheme comprises Royal Avenue, York Street (from Royal Avenue to Frederick Street), Frederick Street, York Lane, Cathedral Gardens, Talbot Street, Exchange Street West and Academy Street, Curtis Street, Clarkes Lane, Great Patrick Street (part), Little Donegall Street (part) and Library Street (part).


The project covers an area of great change and regeneration through the range of projects both currently being implemented and those planned.

Throughout the area there are buildings of particular architectural quality that provide focal points along streets and it is adjacent to two distinctive public realm regeneration schemes; Belfast Streets Ahead Phase 1 and the Cathedral Quarter. Both these schemes have an influence on the material and design context for this project.

In addition, Cathedral Gardens has the potential to create a green anchor that draws people, connecting the North of the city with the centre via Donegall Place, Royal Avenue and York Street.


The project will create high quality public spaces and footpaths through the use of new natural stone paving, improved street furniture, improved street lighting, new urban trees, provision of public art, creating new a public space at Library Street/Little Donegall Street (to be known as Library Square) as well as improving and extending Cathedral Gardens.

View the Belfast: Streets Ahead Phase 3 gallery


For further information contact the Belfast: Streets Ahead team

Bank Square

In 2015 the Department completed a public realm improvement project within the South West Quarter of Belfast City Centre in the Bank Square area.


The focal point of the project was the redevelopment was Bank Square but the project also included the following areas:

  • Bank Street
  • Berry Street
  • Chapel Lane
  • King Street (between Castle Street and College Avenue)


The landscape concept for Bank Square drew upon the historic street pattern, important landmark buildings and vistas to create an enlivened and inclusive City Centre space. Although now long disappeared, the historic street pattern consisted of narrow streets that formed the route from the City Centre to Smithfield markets and the areas adjacent to the square are known for the 'Fadgies' who were Irish speaking street traders that sold fish.

This historic street pattern has been reflected in the hard landscape design which is defined by an extension of the natural granite stone paving materials used in the Belfast: Streets Ahead Phase 1 project, which upgraded and transformed 14 streets in the commercial and retail centre of Belfast.

Bank Square is now defined by a limestone paving that creates a distinctive character to Bank Square when compared to the hierarchy of public squares in Belfast.


The scheme incorporated the following key elements:

  • high quality natural stone granite paving treatments along the main footways
  • high quality natural stone Kilkenny blue limestone on Bank Square which has created a distinct space for events, markets and festivals
  • improved street lighting
  • bespoke feature lighting columns within Bank Square to create visual interest, enclosure, and enhanced illumination
  • modular living wall along the part of the Castle Court service yard to soften the area and to provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for users
  • mature trees complementary to the area
  • public art from Berry Street to Bank Square

View the Bank Square gallery


For further information contact the Belfast: Streets Ahead team

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