Last Friday the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) submitted a planning application for the first phase of their new home ‘Balmoral Park’ on the former Maze Long Kesh (MLK) site in Belfast.
The RUAS holds the Balmoral Show every year in May; for 3 days theirShowgrounds (currently at the Kings Hall) are transformed into an agricultural extravaganza – the largest agricultural show in Northern Ireland. The ever popular show goes from strength to strength and has outgrown the Kings Hall site where it has been for 100 years, the RUAS also wish to expand their exhibition and showground facilities to keep the society’s events offer competitive through the next 100 years.
Studio Egret West were commissioned in January 2012 to masterplan the RUAS Balmoral Park site within the emerging MLK strategic planning framework. SEW’s work involves visioning for Balmoral Park and wider MLK site, producing development options with schematic architecture and landscape designs. The evolving proposal puts the new Showgrounds at the heart of the site and frames these with a series of buildings that anchor Balmoral Park into the wider MLK site. In the short term these buildings will be temporary (erected on an event basis) but over the next 10 years the RUAS aspires to develop a world class centre for agricultural excellence in Northern Ireland including, new exhibition halls, a one-planet-living centre, International equestrian centre, agri-business village and an ecology park with hotel and conference faculties.
On the 15th June 2012 the RUAS membership voted in favour of moving the RUAS to the Studio Egret West designed Balmoral Park site and building out a legacy project on the existing Kings Hall site. The first phase planning application is the culmination of 6 months of work by Studio Egret West with OCP Project Management, RPS Group and Clyde Shanks and begins the process of moving the RUAS to Balmoral Park, which will host it’s first Balmoral Show in 2013.