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Sirocco Quays city centre development, Belfast

Sirocco Quays city centre development, Belfast

The banner image shows the Sirocco development (in blue) in relation to the city centre, together with the main routes to the site

A new city centre location

The Sirocco site on the bank of the river Lagan in Belfast has an industrial past, and the surrounding areas on the east side of the Lagan are dominated by rail and road infrastructure, and derelict or under-used industrial sites. This area has the potential to become a powerful extnsion of Belfast city centre. If this happens, it will mean that Belfast will become a city astride the river instead of beside the river. 

An opportuntiy for sustainable access

The Sirocco site, because of its location and setting, provides a major opportunity to create a new city centre quarter that is efficient and sustainable in terms of movement and access. Compared to providing for an equivalent level of growth (around 2,000 homes plus employment, leisure and other facilities) at a peripheral location, Sirocco will enable a low level of car use whilst providing a high degree of accessibility. People living or working in, or visiting, the Sirocco area will have alternative means of travel available to them, and will be in proximity to a wide range of facilities and activities without the need for any motorised travel. This means that the development will have a low impact in terms of traffic added to the existing road network, a relatively small footprint in terms of land devoted to transport and access, and a minimal impact on CO2 and other emissions.

The development concept reinforces and provides for this aspiration by limiting the supply of parking on the one hand, while on the other hand providing for high quality movement on foot, cycle and public transport. The high quality public spaces will in themselves provide an incentive to walk or cycle. 

Low parking provision

Car use by residents will be provided for through a combination of residential parking spaces for occupants of the larger dwelling units, and the provision of a car sharing club whereby people can choose to use a car on a pay as you drive basis without the need to own a car. This is an innovative feature in Belfast, but is an established and fast-growing model in the rest of the UK and elsewhere.

In line with established transport policy in Belfast, the development at Sirocco will not provide for any commuter (long-stay, daytime) parking. Non-residential parking will be provided for short visits to the retail, office and other facilities on the site, on a pay and display basis, both on-street and in an underground car park for public use.

A new footbridge across the Lagan

The developer would fund a new footbridge across the river Lagan to provide a direct and attractive link between the Sirocco Quays area and the existing city centre in the vicinity of the Waterfront Hall.

Social integration

The Sirocco site lies at the conjunction of routes to Protestant and Catholic communities in East Belfast. In order to understand how the development could best respond to the aspiration for social integration and harmony between the different communities, the developer commissioned special in-depth research from ESRO (see pdf).

A scheme for the future?

The property crash in 2008-9 stalled this scheme, but it is to be hoped that the thousands of hours of planning effort willl at some point be revisited to provide the high quality development solution that the Sirocco site deserves.

LocationBelfast Northern Ireland
Client(s)Carvill Group
Team(s)Tim Pharoah with multi-disciplinary team


Belfast, city centre regeneration, Sirocco, sustainable transport, sustainable access, puboic transport planning, social integration, parking standards, public realm design, street design