Urban universities as catalysts for public-private regeneration strategies to benefit more liveable and healthy inner-city communities

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper examines the presence and influence of urban universities as catalysts for more beneficial impacts on their immediate city environments and communities. It focuses on planning and architectural contexts for projects proposed to transform the entirety of neighbourhoods surrounding, and led-by, Ulster University’s £250 million Belfast campus expansion by 2022. With over £1 billion of combined public private funding earmarked for infrastructure, housing, tourism and commercial-creative sector investment over the next 15 years - not accounting for the current Coronavirus pandemic - unprecedented levels of what is termed comprehensive regeneration are putting adjacent conservation areas and heritage buildings under pressure for redevelopment. The paper argues that no holistic development approach to decision-making, or understanding of current powers, exist for projects claimed as mechanisms for a culturally and economically vibrant Belfast City Centre, with tens of thousands of new residents by 2035. The paper thus sets out a methodology to trace and evaluate the collective impact of dynamic and differing proposals on local social, economic, and physical factors over time and across disciplines from the built environment to public health and social sciences. It will discuss findings from literature that frame methodologies to collect and connect primary data on base-line and changing KPIs associated with liveable, healthy and resilient communities.
The relevance of Ulster’s expansion to the surrounding neighbourhoods will be examined for its key stakeholder role in debates about how investment should impact on immediate and future development. Discussions will be framed against local, institutional, and government level policy and future city targets and aspirations as set out in the City Council’s Bolder Vision (2020) and the Stormont Executive’s New Decade New Approach (2020) documents. The focus area surrounding Ulster University’s Belfast campus will be the means to contribute relevant international lessons on liveable community policy and spatial governance.
Period22 Jan 2021
Held atBelfast School of Architecture & the Be
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • propinquity
  • Urban Research Lab
  • liveability
  • Architecture Research
  • wellbeing
  • engagement
  • regeneration
  • Ulster University
  • Planning