Someone observed the other day that coming down Donegall Street from Clifton House the Cathedral is almost entirely obscured now by the new University building in York Street.
I had noticed the gradual disappearance of St Anne’s from this angle some time ago. It raises the larger issue of the number of high-rise buildings being planned for the Cathedral area. The main University building will be sufficiently far away from the Cathedral, but will seriously impact St Patrick’s Church, the spire of which will be lost from the skyline except from the perspective of up Donegall Street towards Carlisle Circus.
The current plans for a redesigned Writers’ Square involve it being smaller, with a new street leading from it to Rosemary Street, but with another tall building close to the front of St Anne’s. At the moment, the buildings in Talbot Street, including Church House, are all lower than the Cathedral, and I would consider it essential for St Anne’s that they stay so, or, with the exception of the gardens of Buoys’ Park, we will be in danger of being entirely enclosed.
Speaking of changes, we interviewed for new staff to oversee tourism and events at the Cathedral yesterday, as the Cathedral’s business side continues to open new income streams in the strategic plan to make St Anne’s sustainable in the coming decades. These involve long-term objectives, such as all cathedrals in the UK and Ireland are seeking at the moment, in a difficult funding environment. Cathedrals don’t have the luxury of looking at just the next five to 10 years, important though that period may be, but must consider the risk factors over the next 50 and more years.
Little improvements are being made at the micro level too, with fine new handrails being added to the steps to the pulpit. They were receiving their final coat of oil yesterday and are a lovely addition to the pulpit and fulfil their primary purpose of making the steps safer for preachers!