Belfast City Hall
Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall
Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer x6311
Apologies were reported on behalf of the Chairperson (Councillor Lyons), the High Sheriff (Councillor Howard) and Councillors Baker, Dorrian, Mullan, O’Donnell and O’Neill.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were reported.
The Committee was reminded that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 14th November, had agreed that a special meeting be held, to which representatives of the Department for Infrastructure, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Translink would be invited, to discuss transportation issues in the City centre, following the recent fire in Bank Buildings.
The City Regeneration and Development Lead Officer reviewed the background to those issues, following which the Chairperson welcomed the following representatives:
Department for Infrastructure
· Mr. K. Monaghan, Divisional Roads Manager, Eastern Division;
· Mr. C De Burca, Director of Dfi Roads Transport Projects and Business Services;
· Mr. G. Doherty, Section Engineer, Belfast South; and
· Mr. G. Miskimmin, Deputy Section Engineer, Belfast North
Police Service of Northern Ireland
· Inspector David Gibson
· Mr. C. Conway, Chief Executive; and
· Mr. D. Bannon, Belfast Area Manager.
Mr. Bannon informed the Committee that, as a consequence of the Bank Buildings fire, Translink had been required to re-route a large number of its services in and around the City centre, which had coincided with the launch of its Glider service. He reported that there were now an additional sixty vehicles per hour operating via Chichester Street, High Street and North Street and that, whilst that diversionary route was working well, in terms of delivering passengers close to, for example, Castle Court, Translink now needed to plan for service provision in the medium to long term, given that Royal Avenue was unlikely to open to traffic until April at the earliest. He then referred to the funding which had been secured from the Department for Infrastructure to deliver a high impact festive travel campaign and confirmed that, since its launch, there had been a welcome increase in passenger numbers travelling into the City centre.
Mr. Conway reported that, whilst passengers were now becoming accustomed to the new routes and temporary stops, there were still some issues to be addressed, such as adjustments to timetables. He reiterated the point which had been made by Mr. Bannon around the need for Royal Avenue to be re-opened to traffic as a matter of urgency and confirmed that in the longer term, Translink would, if Castle Street were to be closed for an extended period, be required to identify other routes in which to leave the City.
Mr. Monaghan confirmed that the Department for Infrastructure had, in the immediate aftermath of the Bank Buildings fire, worked with other agencies and businesses to develop an access and loading plan for the City centre. He reported that, whilst the plan was working well in the main, there were some issues, particularly around Bank Square and Castle Street, which officers from a number of agencies were working to address. He confirmed that the imminent opening of the Primark store in Commonwealth House and increased conservation-led activity around the Bank Buildings would place additional demands on the plan and that the Department for Infrastructure would be working to meet the various needs of all stakeholders. He ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
Mr. Monaghan submitted for the Committee’s consideration the Department for Infrastructure Roads Service’s Autumn Report, which outlined the work undertaken by the Roads Service’s Eastern Division within the Council area during 2018/2019.
In relation to major works, he reported that the York Street Interchange scheme remained a high priority, given that it would address a major bottleneck on the strategic road network. New bus lanes were being constructed currently on the M1 and M2 motorways, which would provide an additional 4.6 kilometres and 2.2 kilometres, respectively. He then provided an update on the two minor works schemes, at Barnett’s Road, which was progressing, and at the Blacks Road/M1 Junction 3, which was programmed, and on the maintenance of various structures across the City. The Committee’s attention was then drawn to the Division’s work around collision remedial schemes, traffic schemes, pedestrian measures, traffic signs, carriageway markings/resurfacing and street lighting. He then highlighted the wide programme of cycle improvement measures which had been implemented, such as the widening of the Comber Greenway, and the various schemes which were being planned. He added that the sole traffic calming scheme which had been programmed for the period, at Tennent Street, had been withdrawn, due to objections from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
A Member then drew to Mr. Monaghan’s attention to the need to undertake resurfacing in Sydney Street West and Abbeydale Crescent, Drive and Parade, and in the Lower Shankill area, including Shankill Parade, and suggested that traffic management measures should be introduced at the Lanark Way/Springfield Road junction. Other Members highlighted the need for traffic calming measures in Glasvey Drive, for gullies to be emptied on a Sunday due to the presence of parked vehicles at other times and difficulties with the Albertbridge Road/Templemore Avenue junction leaving the City.
Mr. Monaghan confirmed that issues with the material to be used to resurface Sydney Street West and Abbeydale Crescent/Drive had now been resolved and that consideration would be given to including Abbeydale Parade in that scheme. He undertook to examine the Lanark Way/Springfield Road junction and to advise the Member of the outcome. He pointed out that only up to four traffic calming schemes were delivered each year and that, since Glasvey Drive was located at number forty-three on the current list of around 500 streets, it was unlikely to be actioned for the foreseeable future. In relation to gulley cleaning, Mr. Monaghan stated that additional funding had become available for routine work, some of which could potentially be utilised for gully emptying, and he invited the Member to identify gullies in his area. It was pointed out that, despite the Roads Service on occasions issuing flyers informing residents of their intention to cleanse gullies on a Sunday in streets where accessibility was an issue, teams had still encountered issues with parked vehicles. Finally, he confirmed that the Albertbridge Road/Templemore Avenue junction had been configured in such a way as to allow Glider buses priority access.
Mr. De Burca informed the Committee ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The Planning and Transport Officer submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues
1.1 To provide background and outline some of the issues to consider in the context of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) presentation on the implementation of the Belfast Bicycle Network Plan.
It is recommended that the Committee notes the background and consider the issues in respect of the implementation of the Bicycle Network Plan including opportunities for joint action with the DfI Cycling Unit.
3.0 Main Report
Belfast Bicycle Network Plan
3.1 The Council responded to the public consultation on the Draft Belfast Bicycle Network Plan in March 2017, highlighting the following issues:
· the need for investment and clarification on the resources available to implement the plan within the proposed timeframes;
· the omission from the draft Plan of a number of the main arterial routes which could service high density residential areas from the primary network in particular in west Belfast, south Belfast and north Belfast; and
· identification of opportunities to improve connections to the existing greenways supporting the development of a network in the East of the city.
3.2 It is recognised that DfI has made some progress on developing the cycling network in the City centre, however, there remains a lack of significant progress on establishing a coherent bicycle network city-wide. There is a need for convenient and safe cycling infrastructure linking the city centre to the north, west and south of the city. Further investment is also required to maximise opportunities around the development of greenways such as the Comber and Connswater Greenway and develop new greenways.
3.3 The implementation of the Belfast Bicycle Network Plan would indicate a contribution to delivering a number of the outcomes of the Belfast Agenda in particular ‘Belfast is a vibrant, attractive, connected and environmentally sustainable city’. An indicator of this outcome is to increase ‘the percentage of all journeys which are made by walking, cycling or public transport’. It is also in line with the emerging policy in the Local Development Plan, draft Plan Strategy to promote active travel and the Green and Blue Infrastructure plan. It is suggested that the following issues and initial priority areas (in Bold) are raised with DfI for consideration.
A Community Greenway Route to Service the West of the City.
3.4 There is a lack of cycling infrastructure for west Belfast, the main option remains that of using the bus lanes to connect with the city centre and other networks. The alignment of a proposed greenway route could link the Transport Hub and Belfast City Centre along the busway to the Westlink and Bog Meadows. This connection could be extended alongside the M1 Motorway corridor to connect with the Lagan Towpath and Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park to the south. The proposed route and connections has the potential to link high density residential areas in the west of the city to the Lagan Towpath and the city centre. It ... view the full minutes text for item 4.