Public realm / environmental improvement

The Department has an important role in making our towns and cities look more attractive. We carry out work, which we call Public Realm and Environmental Improvement schemes, to improve public areas whether this is in neighbourhoods, along major roads or in town and city centres.

The purpose of public realm and environmental improvements

Improving the appearance of an area is not just to make people feel good when they visit, shop, work or live there - although that is very important. If an area has been upgraded and is attractive it will be healthier, safer and cleaner and therefore more people will want go there. It also means that businesses will be more likely to invest money, to build or to trade there, which improves the economy and creates jobs.

Vital and viable is the Department's good practice guide for breathing new life into cities and towns in Northern Ireland.

Types of public realm and environmental improvement work

The type of work that is done in an area will depend on what it needs and will be different from place to place. Our aim is to create high quality public spaces and footpaths to encourage better access for all people including those with mobility or sensory issues. The work also provides for seaside promenades, pleasant boulevards and squares that can be used for a range of public activities. This will create spaces where people from all communities can meet, relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Here are some typical examples of the work we do:

  • improving street lighting
  • widening footpaths for pedestrians
  • adding street furniture such as seating, bins and hanging basket stands
  • replacing paved walkways with new long-lasting surfaces
  • improving how the traffic flows
  • providing public art which reflects the history and personality of the area
  • planting trees, shrubs and flowers
  • creating or improving facilities such as multi-use games areas or play parks

Working with other organisations

The work we do will sometimes join with and add to larger schemes. These can be a mix of government and private sector schemes for example those currently being planned for Belfast, Bangor, Ballymena, Larne, Enniskillen, Strabane and Derry/Londonderry. We will work with other departments and statutory bodies including Transport NI and the 11 Councils.

Where this work is carried out

Public realm and environmental improvement schemes are carried out across Northern Ireland.  These are the main types of areas we develop:

  • town and city centres
  • places that have been selected as Neighbourhood Renewal areas
  • along main traffic routes into town and city centres and main roads that connect Neighbourhood Renewal areas to town and city centres

Contact details

Belfast Regeneration

Belfast Regeneration Directorate looks after development in Belfast City Centre and greater Belfast

North West Regeneration

The North West Development Office has responsibility for development in Derry/Londonderry and the towns of Strabane and Limavady.

Regional Regeneration

The Regional Development office has responsibility for development outside Belfast and the North West.

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