Development of the Area

1960 - 2000

The second half of the twentieth century was disastrous for the area. Deindustrialisation across the western world coupled with the planner’s resolve to reorient industry to the outskirts of the city was enough to cripple its prosperity; but this also coincided with a rapidly changing society, commercial trends and significantly, the political conflict. Throughout the 1960s, planners had been drafting proposals for redevelopment. The aim was not only to rehabilitate the old houses in the area, but also to take a move its vital industries into distinct commercial zones on the outskirts of the city. This coincided with plans for the new urban motorway which was to link inner Belfast with shopping zones like Boucher road on the outskirts. The intention was also to build a 6-lane carriageway through Cromac Street and to link the both sides of the community by an underpass. While this was rejected by the community, the imposition of a key arterial route through Cromac Street segregated the community. 

From the late early 60s, Belfast Corporation began planning to move the vast majority of the markets and the abattoir to Duncrue Street, by the Boucher Road. The transport of the animals through the main roads was becoming an increasingly important issue for the planners and with their shift towards motorising the city. By the 1970s, most of the markets and the ancillary livestock industries were relocated to the Boucher Road. There was also a shift in focus concerning the land on which the old markets were situated. As prime city centre real estate, planners and speculators aimed to transform the area. The old Gasworks became the Radisson Blu development. The market sites on Oxford Street were soon to become the Laganside development. Fortunately, after the vehement campaign of market traders and residents, St George’s market survived redevelopment. It reopened in 1992 and housed the variety market, fish, fruit and vegetable traders. 

At the time of redevelopment, 624 families needed housing in the area. The planners initially proposed multi-level flats, rejected by community leaders. A compromise was reached between residents and planners, which altered the entire layout of the area. On the south side of Cromac Street, many of the old streets were compiled into one, where many old streets never returned. The approved plans required more space for housing and car-parking. However, demand for housing meant industrial sites were converted for residential use. The relocation of industry and empty lots also gave planners the to designate car parks throughout the area. Further, with the Conflict ongoing during redevelopment, the new layout was said to be influenced by security forces. The layout allowed only 3 ways in and out of the south side of the Market, which was to facilitate containment in case of unrest. The planner’s protections for industry were unfulfilled; of the many hundreds of businesses in the area pre-redevelopment, few were there after.