MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS SET FOR BELFAST CITY CENTRE

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Belfast has recently seen a series of projects designed to transform the Royal Avenue area of its city centre.

Three buildings in the heart of Belfast will be razed to make way for a £400m regeneration project, following a unanimous decision by the council’s planning committee. The structures on 53-63 Royal Avenue and 16 Lower Garfield Street will be demolished and replaced with the urban development, previously known as the Royal Exchange project.

Carried out in phases, the construction of the development will include: two hotels, the reintegration and refurbishment of seven listed buildings, three new public realm spaces and a 22-storey tower block.

Construction for the proposed scheme is estimated to be in the region of £250m, with the total investment reported to be close to £400m. Developers Castlebrooke Investments said almost 6,000 permanent jobs are set to be created by the new office, retail and leisure space.

New plans have also been unveiled to transform a car park at Belfast's Smithfield Market into a multi-million-pound office and retail development that could create 650 construction jobs. Three new buildings are proposed, alongside the refurbishment of the listed Butcher's Building.

Around half the 235,000sq ft floor space being created will be dedicated for office use, accommodating around 1,500 people. The remainder will be a combination of workshop, retail and co-working space that will seek to promote independent enterprise over multinational chains.

The Smithfield proposal, which is operating under the working title of 'Building Blocks', would represent a major investment in one of the most neglected parts of the city centre. The developers say their plan includes significant improvements to the public realm space around historic Smithfield.

Developers believe that it is important for the city to retain diversity, locating big businesses alongside small home-grown start-ups, independent traders and artisan makers.  They aim to champion the independents, not to attract multinational chains to fill standard shops. 

Source: Belfast Telegraph