The urban growth issues facing Belfast have been the subject of a series of studies in recent years.
Building on these technical reports, a series of draft concept plans were prepared to indicate how these urban growth issues can be resolved and urban development managed to avoid adverse effects on the environment, infrastructure and the community. This work formed the development of the Draft Belfast Area Plan.
The Draft Area Plan was released for community consultation in late October 2009 and included a number of public information and feedback sessions. Submissions closed on 4 December 2009. A total of 111 submissions were received and generally indicated support for the concepts being proposed. A number of submissions, however, related to specific land holdings or ensuring that the Plan was flexible enough to accommodate regulatory changes that were already progressed.
The key themes within what were largely supportive submissions included:
Christchurch City Council adopted the Belfast Area Plan in June 2010, the framework to manage urban and business growth in the Belfast area of Christchurch. The plan covers about 1315 hectares of land and will be implemented progressively during the next 35 years in line with planned growth under the Draft Land Use Recovery Plan (LURP) and Urban Development Strategy (UDS).
Since the adoption of the Belfast Area Plan, Council staff have developed an Implementation Plan. This is a detailed programme of actions for the next three years to work towards achieving the objectives of the Area Plan.
Status of some key implementation projects:
Traditionally, stormwater has been discharged directly from pipes, concrete channels, boxed drains and pumping stations into the waterways, often carrying contaminants and other pollutants.
The new approach is to develop waterways in recognition that the natural environment is highly sensitive to the effects of land-use activity. Sealed surfaces, as an example, result in a greater risk of flooding and reduce surface water filtering into groundwater, placing our aquifers at risk. As new residential and industrial areas are developed around waterways in the Styx River catchment, these waterways will be assessed and where possible, be naturalised to improve water quality, better manage flood risks and enhance natural habitats.
Naturalised stormwater facilities will be built throughout the area, using sedimentation and detention basins, wet ponds, swales and wetlands to treat and manage stormwater run-off before it enters our waterways.