top of page
Section-perspective rev2-2.png

Comprehensive framework for design and policy guidance to transform 10 km of Belfast’s waterfront.

Sitting where the River Lagan meets the Atlantic Ocean, Belfast has always been deeply connected to the water. Here, past and present maritime industries have left their mark, but despite a rich maritime heritage, the great potential of the city’s waterfront as a public space is still to be realized.


Schulze+Grassov lead a team to shape the vision for the future development of 10 kilometres of Belfast’s waterfront as a network of public realm destinations. Our ambition is for a Belfast Waterfront that is greater than the sum of its parts.









Embracing the Belfast Waterfront

Belfast's Waterfront Task Group

Beflast Harbour

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

10 km waterfront


Civic Engineers, Hatch

Belfast Waterfront is a critical component of the city’s economic growth ambitions, and the promenade project will bring it to life. The city has an important opportunity to encourage and harmonise new sustainable development on the waterfront, especially in the face of increased flood risk due to climate change. The promenade will create a high-quality environment for existing communities, new residential and commercial development, and will serve as a major visitor gateway. By balancing community, nature, and development, a world-class waterfront will emerge over time.


The result of our study is a comprehensive framework, “Embracing the Belfast Waterfront”. 

The Belfast Promenade framework identifies key principles that underpin high quality waterfront design and includes both design and policy guidance to transform the waterfront into a vibrant promenade that is socially, ecologically, and economically viable in both the short and long-term. The principles defined do not work in isolation of the others, but rather hand in hand, such that when the correct balance is found a truly world-class waterfront can be delivered.

belfast principles simple.png
belfast interventions.png
A3 labeled character area plan.png
sections path rev3.png

The framework divides the 10 kilometres of shoreline into nine distinct character areas based on existing conditions, as well as our proposed interventions. Each character area can be enhanced with a combination of interventions from our urban waterfront toolkit, such that custom solutions can be designed based on the same set of parameters. We consider interventions in the public realm, water’s edge, and building’s ground level with equal importance to create a coherent but diverse waterfront that supports urban growth, maritime heritage, and the local ecosystem. 


Spanning across several character areas, we are suggesting establishing a Harbour Loop with a pedestrian and cyclist bridge linking key cultural destinations and businesses with local neighbourhoods across the harbour. Closer to the city centre, meanwhile use solutions can create inviting gateways across the harbour that will strengthen the waterfront’s connectivity with the rest of Belfast while supporting green mobility.

We are recommending that Belfast City Council recognizes the Waterfront Promenade as a Character Area under the Belfast Local Development Plan such that it can have its own design guidelines. For this to happen, we have helped to give shape to new planning processes that place an emphasis on reviewing proposals against guidelines and their surrounding context that will be incorporated in the next Belfast Local Development Plan. Through this lens, we have reviewed all current key projects for waterfront development, both granted permission and under review, to improve the quality of planning and design coming forward.

bottom of page