The ‘Right to the City’ in Belfast: the planning, power and politics of city centre development

Thomas McConaghie

Twenty years on from Northern Ireland’s emergence from ethno-political conflict to relative peace and prosperity, research has criticised the region’s fragmented governance of the built environment. With Belfast City Council acquiring planning powers more than 40 years after they were centralised, questions are being asked as to the future of democratic participation in the capital’s urban environment. To explore this, my research will look at three retail centres in the city core: CastleCourt, Victoria Square, and the proposed development on the site formerly known as Royal Exchange. Each development represents a different moment in Belfast’s political and physical history. Discourse analysis will be conducted on the utterances of a range of stakeholders in the governance process, namely: politicians, planners, developers, the media, and the public. My research interests include: critical urban theory, neoliberal urban governance, Lefebvre’s ‘Right to the City’.


A digital resource communicating the work of Architecture at Queen's University Belfast