In the 1970s, the improvement of private and public sector housing was on top of urban planners' policy agenda in Belfast. Ten years later, when the housing renewal strategy was under review, policy makers felt that not only did the strategy need revised (McGivern 1989), but that it was time to consider new initiatives beyond housing. During the '70s, Belfast's city centre had been extensively damaged by a paramilitary bombing campaign directed against commercial property. When, in the early 1980s, the Department of the Environment (NI) responsible for physical planning in Belfast embarked on a policy of city centre regeneration, it was emulating national policies but also responding to calls from the local retailing sector to provide incentives for property investments and to improve the environment of the city centre in order to attract shoppers back into Belfast (Brown (1987)).