Attwood announces major scheme to restore the historic heart of Belfast
Published on Wed, 5 Sep 2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced his decision to grant planning permission for Royal Exchange, a £360million development that will revitalise Belfast City Centre.This is one of the biggest planning applications ever dealt with in Northern Ireland, and follows on from Castle Court and Victoria Square as a major development in Belfast City Centre. The Royal Exchange development will be constructed in the North East Quarter of the City in the area bounded by Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, Garfield Street and High Street. Whilst this area has been in decline for a number of years it was historically the centre of Belfast as it grew in the late 1800’s.
The development includes approximately 50,000 square metres of new retail floorspace – almost half of which will be housed within a single ‘anchor store’ – cafes/bars, a 25 bedroom hotel, over 200 apartments, offices, a new cultural arts centre, car parking for 1,066 vehicles and new public spaces.
The mix of retail, arts and leisure facilities will create a new vibrant environment beyond normal shopping hours. This will further establish Northern Ireland’s capital as a major European regional city that will attract more visitors, further develop the evening economy and provide city centre living.
The development, which will involve the demolition of a number of existing buildings, will also include works to restore listed buildings and facades – including reinstatement of the North Street Arcade rotunda and its facades. The proposal also brings back to use the Northern Bank building on Bridge Street which is Belfast’s oldest public building.
Commenting on his decision Alex Attwood said: “This is tremendous news for Belfast in terms of both the environment and the economy. The proposal aims to create a new environment in the City and revitalise an area of Belfast that has been without meaningful development for a number of years. It is estimated that it will bring 3,000 much needed jobs – 1,000 for the construction phase and 2,000 jobs in retail and leisure once completed.
“I am very conscious that there is a need to protect the historic fabric of the City and this I have balanced carefully alongside the wider strategic benefits of the proposed scheme. The economic, physical and social benefits will impact positively on many people’s lives whilst sympathetically rejuvenating the historic centre of Belfast. I am convinced that we can redevelop our heritage and create many more jobs in a way that cherishes and protects our environment.”
Notes to editors:
1.The application was submitted 29 October 2010.
2.The application is for full planning permission for demolition, redevelopment and part change of use to existing buildings to create a mixed use retail, offices, café/bar use, two no. retail pavilions, 205 apartments including six no. live work units, with associated energy centre, service areas and above ground car parking, cultural/arts centre, hotel, two- level basement car park and associated access and circulation, creation of new streets and public spaces, reconfiguration of Writer’s Square, public realm works, landscaping and associated site and road works. Application also comprises works to restore, alter and extend listed buildings and facades and partial demolition of North Street Arcade retaining its facades, partial reconstruction of end blocks and reconstruction of rotunda on original location.
3. The retail led development is by Leaside Investments Ltd.
4. The site of the development encompasses two of the City Centre’s conservation areas and a significant number of listed buildings. The proposal will help deliver a number of the objectives in the Programme for Government including increasing visitor numbers, supporting the promotion of new jobs and the promotion of private sector investments in town centres.
5. The application was designated one of major importance under Article 31 of the Planning (NI) order on 7 January 2011.
6. The application was dealt with by the Department of Environment’s Strategic Planning Division.
7. For media enquiries please contact DOE Communications Office 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.