The manager of the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District has called statutory agencies in the city to re-consider the impact of a thriving and growing Cathedral Quarter on baseline service provision.
Damien Corr, CQ BID manager, said: “There is a growing feeling among businesses in the cathedral quarter that we may be overlooking the basics such as street cleansing, lighting and the upkeep of the general infrastructure of the area as we look to develop our city to reach its full potential among its regional and international peers.
“For example the UU campus is set to welcome over 15,000 people in September of this year…that’s like dropping the population of Armagh into the area.
“We currently have around 3,500-4,000 students now living in the cathedral quarter as well as more student accommodation developments planned.
“Notwithstanding the current cost of living rises, we are beginning to see a more optimistic and confident outlook among many of our businesses. Within the last year 10 new businesses have opened up in the Cathedral Quarter, with another six looking good for the next 12 months and five longer term major developments in the pipeline.”
Within the last year the cathedral quarter has welcomed the opening of Lebanese food outlet Deerah, Neighbourhood cafe, Never Never mens clothing, The Academy restaurant at the university, Cathedral Pizza on Donegall Street and a number of other businesses such as The Quarter by Warren tourism accommodation.
Cathedral Quarter BID Chair Les Hume said: “The business community have voted with their feet and are investing in our area but they want assurance that at the very least our public realm will be fit for purpose when people return.
“We are committed to working in partnership with business and statutory partners to ensure that streets are safe, clean and welcoming…these baseline services should be a given, he said.
In a 2021 survey commissioned by CQ BID, 90% of respondents cited increased footfall as a key target.
Since then the BID has part-funded events such as Tumble Circus’ Winter Circus, The Belfast Children’s festival, The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Festival of Fools and Hit the North.
Damien explained that these initiatives have brought “tens of thousands of visitors back to Cathedral Quarter”.
He added: “We readily acknowledge the support provided by Belfast City Council, PSNI, Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure in preparing the area for events to take place and clearing up afterwards.
“We fund these events to act as a catalyst to encourage people to come back to the Cathedral Quarter and our feedback and subsequent evaluation show that visitors enjoy and feel safe at these events.
“More needs to be done to encourage all visitors to come to the cathedral quarter and to feel safe and welcome whilst doing so.
“This is why baseline services such as street cleansing, lighting and the upkeep of the general infrastructure of the area must remain consistent, not just when events are happening or when someone makes a formal complaint.”
Last month following a series of complaints made by local businesses a meeting was organised by the Business Improvement District where all group party leaders at Belfast City Council were invited to send a representative to speak with the businesses and hear their concerns.
“Unfortunately only Alderman Jim Rodgers (UUP), of the eight parties invited, turned up on the day (SDLP and Green Party gave apologies – the other five did not acknowledge the invite or subsequent reminders)” said Damien.
“The businesses who took time out of their busy schedules commended Alderman Rodgers but were disappointed to say the least with the other parties’ failure to attend.
“We need political support and leadership to ensure that these baseline services are delivered consistently across the city centre which will in turn provide a good foundation for the City’s key strategies to build upon.
“The Cathedral Quarter BID is committed to working in partnership with elected representatives, Statutory agencies and other sector organisations. We are now calling on our councillors to engage meaningfully with city centre ratepayers.”
For more information about the Cathedral Quarter or CQ BID go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com
Belfast Woman Set To Star In RTE’s Super Garden Show Tonight
Belfast woman Mary Anne Farenden, 29, is set to appear in episode three of RTE’s popular horticulture show ‘Super Garden’ tonight Thursday May 5.
The architect graduate, artist and singer joins four other budding designers from across Ireland who are battling it out to secure a coveted garden spot at Ireland’s leading garden festival, Bord Bia’s ‘Bloom’.
This year’s series sees the designers transform Riverside in Kells, a new social housing development built by Meath County Council where they will each be given an identical plot in the estate as their blank canvas to create a spectacular show garden for the residents.
The self-employed creative described how her love for design started at a young age despite growing up in a household of engineers: “I would say I have been artistic since I can remember. I loved making little spaces and one thing my mum always said was I would make little nests.
“I think with most of the family being engineers, they need to solve problems and you can’t help but absorb it but I knew from an early age I wasn’t a mathematical person.
“When I finally got the house I’m in now I had a little yard and it was like the Garden of Eden. It was concrete with an oil tank but it was outside space. I enjoyed trying to create the perfect little haven in the middle of an alleyway.”
Mary Anne currently is a small business owner of Mary Anne Designs and Chalkboard Art Belfast creating bespoke illustrations for restaurants throughout Belfast.
In terms of design, Mary Anne takes inspiration from a broad range of gardens including cottage, fairy woodland and zen gardens and loves to create her own unique blend of them all.
With only five weeks and a budget of €15,000 to bring her idea to life, Mary Anne described how ‘blood, sweat and tears’ went into making the show garden for the Devine family who have three young children and two dogs.
“It was extremely hard work and 100% blood sweat and tears went into it. Most days I was there from 9 to 11 at night just working right up until the very last moment” she explained.
Tonight’s episode showcases Mary Anne’s ‘Enchanted Playland’ design which combines natural woodland and suburbia.
Packed full of unique touches from a willow lined gravel path leads to a log playhouse surrounded by toadstools, Mary Anne hopes to win over the family with her fairy inspired design.
Under the canopy of trees, Mary Anne has included a tyre climbing frame, swing and slide to please the young children.
The adults also haven’t been forgotten with Mary Anne creating a timber decking that leads directly from the house to a picnic bench and table under a wooden pergola with a protective Perspex roof perfect for summer socialising.
However, not only does Mary Anne have to win over the residents, her designs have to capture the attention of Super Garden’s acclaimed judges, Gary Graham, Monica Alvarez and Brian Burke who each have years of horticulture experience worldwide.
Tune in tonight at 8:30pm on RTE to see if Mary Anne can pull off a Bloom worthy garden and impress the nation.
Belfast Mayor Celebrates Launch Of Winter Circus Programme
The award winning circus company Tumble Circus will make its return to Belfast’s Writers’ Square this Christmas.
The team at Tumble Circus are back and better than ever with their exciting Winter Circus extravaganza.
Now in its fifth year, the event organisers said fans can expect this year’s show “to return louder and prouder than ever before”.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “Belfast City Council is delighted to support Tumble Circus to produce this family friendly event. Tina and Ken are such talented, brave artists – and their shows are magical, memorable mayhem!”
“Come on in to Belfast to enjoy Tumble Circus and the rest of our seasonal programme of events in the city – you can be sure of a warm welcome and plenty of festive fun.”
Running from December 17 to January 3 Tina Segner of Tumble Circus said: “We are delighted to be back and we’ve got an amazing show lined up this year in our fully heated Tumble Circus big top tent.
“This is a show that has something for everyone.
“Tumble Circus combines circus skills with comedy, theatre and social commentary to make people laugh, react, and act.”
The Tumble Circus Winter Circus show is a high skill, all human and all thrill performance featuring death defying aerialists and mind bending jugglers creating fun for all the family.
“The Winter Circus shows will be spectacular with an inspiring modern soundtrack” said Ken Fanning of Tumble Circus, adding: “visitors to the big top can expect modern, high skilled acts, including acrobats, aerialists and jugglers in this one hour of hammer smashing Belfast inspired circus.
“From international circus artists to well-known comedy characters both young and old audiences will be able to enjoy the show whilst expecting big laughs and some mighty craic.”
Tickets are limited this year so it’s advised to book early to experience the world-class acrobats, aerialists, jugglers and the unique humour that has made Tumble Circus an international award-winning modern circus company.
Winter Circus is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and Destination CQ BID
Tickets are £9-£14 + booking fee and available from wegottickets.com/JossersBigTop, or for more information go to tumblecircus.com. Family tickets are also available and group bookings (10+) can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.