Planner who improved Belfast living conditions
Bob Strang, who has died aged 77 after a long illness, was an influential architect and town planner whose work over 40 years made a lasting impact in Northern Ireland. In particular he will be remembered as one of the original team which designed the city of Craigavon; as the planner of Poleglass in west Belfast; and for his work on inner-city housing redevelopment in Belfast in the 1980s. Robert Andrew Strang was born in Glasgow, educated at Allen Glen School and the Royal College of Science and Technology, which later became Strathclyde University. After National Service with the British army in Cyprus, he joined Glasgow Corporation, before becoming part of the team designing Cumbernauld, a new town created to ease Glasgow’s population overspill. In 1963, he came to Northern Ireland to start work on Craigavon, at the time Britain’s most ambitious new town project. The scale of the endeavour was huge. The then Stormont government acquired compulsorily some 6,000 acres of land between Lurgan and Portadown and set about building a city for 100,000 people. But the project was beset with problems. First, the chief planner resigned because his designs were considered too futuristic. Then in 1973, with millions invested and Craigavon only partially completed, the government pulled the plug, in part due to lack of funding caused by the oil crisis.