Belfast city centre nursery calls for Grand Central Station to bring more green spaces to area

Puddleducks manager Sharon Malcolm and CEO of Belfast Healthy Cities, Charlene Brooks
-Credit: (Image: PressEye)


A nursery in Belfast city centre is calling for the redevelopment of the area due to the new Grand Central Station to bring with it more communal green spaces. The team at Puddleducks on Glengall Street met with the new CEO of Belfast Healthy Cities, Charlene Brooks, to discuss how the development of the area could impact families for the better.

Nursery manager Sharon Malcolm welcomed Charlene and showed her the day care centre’s garden area where children can play, also discussing opportunities for improving the outdoor space. As well as this, they highlighted how the pedestrianisation of Glengall Street could improve the safety and wellbeing for parents leaving their children at the nursery.

As part of the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Network, Belfast Healthy Cities promotes Belfast as a healthier, more sustainable city by integrating health and well-being into all aspects of our lives.

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Puddleducks manager Sharon Malcolm said they make the most of their outdoor space as often as possible. Additionally, due to the ongoing works around Glengall Street for the development of Grand Central Station, they have noticed more parents using active travel to drop their kids off.

Sharon said: "A lot of our families that live in and around the city centre don't have access to gardens and green spaces. So when they come to us, we really try to maximise the opportunities that we have with our outdoor area.

"So the children in our care get outside into the fresh air and we know how important that is for a child's emotional well-being, as well as so many other factors and that's a really big focus at Puddleducks.

"There is also a huge amount of change going on our doorstep at the moment with the new Grand Central Station and changes on Glengall Street. Already, we’re seeing a lot of our parents using public transport, or walking, as opposed to using their cars so we see that as a very positive thing."

Sharon Malcolm, manager at Puddleducks Day Nursery in Belfast city centre
Sharon Malcolm, manager at Puddleducks Day Nursery in Belfast city centre -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

Puddleducks Day Nursery is operated by Belfast Central Mission. Their business development manager, Alan Irwin, said they have been involved in talks around the look and feel of the new plaza for Grand Central Station which will be right outside their door.

He's hoping it will bring more green spaces and communal areas to the city centre. Alan said: “We’ve been involved in local discussions around the look and the feel of the new plaza for Grand Central Station, which will be right outside our door. There's going to be much more of a pedestrian friendly zone with green spaces and areas for socialising.

"That will bring many benefits and opportunities for us, especially for our families. We hope to be a part of the renewed focus on making this area an enjoyable space for everyone and as part of that we are looking at options to make our facilities for children even better, especially the outdoor space."

CEO of Belfast Healthy Cities, Charlene Brooks, said they are working on reducing car dependency and ensuring all citizens have access to fresh quality air in the city centre. She said there is a focus on ensuring people know about accessible green spaces to improve their health and wellbeing.

Charlene said: "Belfast Healthy Cities is focused on how we can promote Belfast as a healthy place for people to live, work and visit. We really want to see a vibrant city, with good use of accessible green spaces.

"So whether that's enhanced parks with diverse trees and plants or small inviting spaces that are well utilised with edible gardens, we all have a role to play in creating a healthy city that will have a lasting impact on our health and wellbeing.

“Our organisation encourages active travel, reducing air pollution within the city centre and work with other key stakeholders, including Belfast City Council, Public Health Agency, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Northern Ireland Housing Executive as well as academia, regional government and colleagues across the voluntary and community sectors.

“Collectively we are working on reducing car dependency and how we can ensure our children, older people, and all citizens have access to fresh quality air in the city centre.

“Belfast Healthy Cities developed the ‘Healthy Places, Healthy Children’ project which focusses on helping children explore the link between the built environment, planning and health. This can help children from a young age to get involved with growing fruit and vegetables and nurturing their own local environment.

“Of course, not everyone has their own garden space and so it’s important for them to know about local, accessible green spaces to improve their health and wellbeing. I was delighted to hear how Puddleducks incorporates outdoor play for their children."

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