Beyond the peace lines… (2018)

… exploring the impacts of landscape boundaries and social inclusion in Belfast

Beyond the Peace Lines 2018 © Ian Mell

Project summary

Belfast is a complex and diverse city. Its urban form has been manipulated over time to house both beautiful landscapes and spaces of community exclusion. The role of parks have been discussed less frequently, yet have been shown to make significant positive impacts on health, well-being and community cohesion.

The project aimed to examine whether the historical and physical boundaries associated with segregation in Belfast remain influential to the ways in which people engage with and value the city’s landscape. In addition, the project explored how ethno-cultural norms have led to the creation of invisible borders between and within communities, and how the changing development objectives of the city are addressing division. Through engagement with academic, policy, community/environment and public stakeholders (based on existing contacts), the project debates:

  1. how historical division and militarisation of the city’s landscape by the state has changed post the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (1998),
  2. how this has influenced the current development strategy proposed in the Belfast Agenda, and
  3. examines community responses to the changing discourse of landscape perceptions within Belfast.

The project developed a revised narrative of landscape functionality in Belfast by asking whether the historical significance of segregation placed on the city’s landscape remains relevant. This new discourse has been co-produced with professional stakeholders and local communities within the city to examine what factors are currently influencing landscape perceptions and how this compares to the established history of the city’s environment.

Related papers:

  • Mell (2019) Beyond the peace lines: conceptualising representations of parks as inclusionary spaces in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Town Planning Review, 90, 2, https://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/abs/10.3828/tpr.2019.13
  • Lang & Mell (Accepted/In Press) “‘I stick to this side of the park’: parks as shared spaces in contemporary Belfast”. Environment & Planning E: Nature and Space. 

Applicant: Dr Ian Mell, who leads a multi-discplinary team from the Universities of Manchester, Salford, Brighton and Ulster, UK