Belfast THRI[VES]: Transformative Health and Regeneration Initiatives [for Vibrancy, Equality, and Sustainability]: Project Report

Saul M Golden, Gavan Rafferty, Gerard Leavey, Callie Persic, Niamh Mulrine

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Belfast THRI[VES] is a pilot collaboration between Ulster University’s Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment, the School of Psychology, and Bamford Centre for Mental Health & Wellbeing, working with Operational Partners from Belfast City Council’s City Regeneration & Development Division and The Department for Infrastructure.
The project was funded through Belfast City Council via the Department for Communities COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme, and the Department for Infrastructure. This report represents the overall project findings, literature reviews, case studies, lessons and recommendations.
Examining how the City Centre can be an improved, inclusive, and innovative place for future generations, THRI[VES] argues for liveability as a unique framework to evaluate and deliver projects within and/or impacting on the public realm, primarily, through enhanced wellbeing priorities. It also investigates the role of public-private engagement to reframe wellbeing-based criteria and more effectively connect statutory and tactical regeneration process to more informal bottom-up evidence-based considerations that can collectively address and develop innovative solutions to tackle health, climate-change, and socio-economic stresses.
Four objectives structure the synthesis and presentation of report findings to:
• Assist Council-Executive goals to develop effective public decision-making processes to reimagine greener, healthier, more vibrant city spaces (in line with A Bolder Vision aspirations).
• Identify areas for improved cross-sector data-sharing on wellbeing, sustainability, and resilience.
• Develop evidence-based proposals to improve public-space policy and decision-making.
• Propose new data-sharing platforms and future collaborations to inform more effective evidence-based policy, design, and post-evaluation of new public realm projects for wellbeing.
Focusing on Belfast city centre, primary evidence, literature reviews, and international precedents provide wider lessons about urban governance and place-management at different scales of development including:
• smaller projects (pop-ups, parklets, and meanwhile type examples)
• neighbourhood-wide visioning and masterplanning proposals, and
• city-wide to regional and national planning and regeneration project development policy.
The above project levels, discussed in report examples, acknowledge how all development and policy are interconnected, impacted by complex spatial and community decisions for local/national governing bodies. The report highlights a need for greater shared understandings and collaboration amongst all policymakers, professionals, and the public about the terms, data, and co-production processes that inform both urban and rural development. The findings, discussions, and summary recommendations – set out below and expanded upon in the concluding chapter- are thus seen as a starting point to help improve placemaking for greater liveability and sustainable livelihood in Belfast and all villages, towns, and city centres.
Ulster University Academic Research Team and Belfast City Council Partners
Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment:
Dr Saul Golden, PI, Lecturer in Architecture & Spatial Design
Dr Gavan Rafferty, Co-I Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Development
Professor Gerry Leavey, Co-I, Director, Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing
Belfast City Council City Regeneration & Development
Dr Callie Persic, Development Manager
Ms Niamh Mulrine, Regeneration Project Officer
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyBelfast City Council
Number of pages93
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2023
EventBelfast THRI(VES): Transformative Health & Regeneration Initiatives (for Vibrancy, Equality, and Sustainability) - Belfast and Online (Zoom)
Duration: 16 Jun 202117 Jun 2021


  • Belfast
  • Urban health
  • Pilot research
  • Liveability
  • Accessibility
  • Public space
  • urban research lab
  • Wellbeing
  • Sustainability
  • Vibrancy
  • policy


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