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Demolition in Belfast: What we stand to lose?

Posted on: 18th January 2024

Happy New Year to you all from Ulster Architectural Heritage.

UAH are disappointed to see the demolition of Havelock House on the Ormeau Road. While there were debates about its architectural merits and history, this was clearly a building that could have been reused and integrated in to a new development. UAH calls on Belfast City Council to reassess its position on demolition as development, cumulative loss of heritage buildings, and environmental impact assessment.

With every demolition the historic and cultural value of our city, and collective identity, is eroded. With every demolition we are missing the opportunity to harness embodied energy, restore and retrofit buildings, avoiding the expenditure of carbon associated with demolition and new build. Belfast City Council announced a climate emergency in October 2019, but loss of buildings such as Havelock House does not reflect a commitment to addressing the climate emergency. In October 2023 the CIOB called for Northern Ireland to incentivise reuse and refurbishment and the Architect’s Journal are fronting a UK wide ‘Retrofirst’ campaign. The RSUA also set out a Climate Action Paper containing 39 points to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions in the sector. But who in Northern Ireland is listening?

Retention of historic buildings provides two-fold benefits – protecting the culture and heritage value of our city, while addressing the climate crisis for the benefit of future generations. It is time for Belfast to stop squandering this opportunity. UAH would like to commend the Save Havelock House campaign to raise awareness of the building. Yet another loss to tangible history adds to the erosion of that community’s roots and unique sense of place, that we should be protecting.




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