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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Belfast set for 'major makeover'
Belfast skyline
Work is due to be completed by 2009
Belfast city centre is to get a multi-million pound makeover.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie has announced a 16m programme which will transform 14 of Belfast's main streets and public spaces.

She says she hopes it will attract new businesses and encourage more residential development in the city centre.

Half a million pounds of the money will be spent on new pieces of public art. Work is due to be completed by 2009.

"This new form of public space investment will encourage clean, safe and friendly streets and bring about a feel-good factor about our city centre in Belfast," she said.

"Obviously my ultimate goal is to make Belfast city centre one of the premier European cities to match Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool."

Statue of Speaker, Belfast
The people make Belfast what it is - I just hope that,when considering art to jazz up the city,those same people have a say!
mj phelan, Canada

She said that new art works could add interest and focus to the capital's streets and give pride to residents.

"Belfast already has some good examples of public art such as the sculpture at Thanksgiving Square at Laganside," she said.

"To complement our new streets, I intend to invest 500,000 in commissioning a number of new artworks.

"Later this year, local people will have an opportunity to vote for a new centrepiece for Arthur Square, one of the main public spaces in Belfast."

Belfast's Lord Mayor, Jim Rodgers, said the programme would complement the council's longer term initiatives for "the evening economy, tourism, retail and the linking of the city centre to the surrounding inner city areas".

Mervyn Jess reports from Belfast city centre

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