Planning permission secured for new £25m Andersonstown Leisure Centre

The Andersonstown leisure centre is set for a complete makeover as part of the Belfast Leisure Transformation Programme

ANDERSONSTOWN Leisure Centre is to replaced with a £25 million state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility, while a £15 million "iconic" office development is planned for Belfast's Merchant Square.

These, two of the biggest developments to be recently granted planning permission by Belfast City Council, will lead to a significant number of jobs in the construction sector.

The existing Andersonstown centre will be demolished and replaced with a modern new facility featuring slides and wet play equipment for young children, a FlowRider surf machine and a number of slides for the "more adventurous" water park enthusiast.

The development is part of Belfast City Council's £105 million ten-year programme to improve leisure centres, programmes and services across the city.

Works begins on the site next month, with the new centre – which will be home to a 25-metre, six-lane swimming pool – due to open in summer 2019.

The new-look facility will also accommodate 50 spectator seats, a learner pool, 140 station fitness suite, exercise studios, spin studio, café, multi-purpose room and a range of outdoor provision, including five-a-side pitches.

Chairman of Belfast City Council's planning committee, Councillor Donal Lyons, said the plans would make Andersonstown Leisure Centre "the largest, family-friendly" leisure centre in Northern Ireland.

"As our Belfast Agenda sets out, we want everyone in Belfast to experience good health and wellbeing and this substantial investment in our Leisure Transformation Programme is allowing us to take great strides towards achieving that goal," he said.

Meanwhile, another "transformation" is planned for Merchant Square in Wellington Place after planning permission was granted to provide "retail and office space covering some 250,000 square feet.

The design includes a corten steel fascade, with the project expected to be completed by early 2019.

Lisa McAteer, Director of letting agents, CBRE, said: "Demand for Grade A office space in Belfast is extremely high, with a real shortage of quality stock.

"Merchant Square will be vital in delivering much-needed supply and will help Belfast to continue to attract global office occupiers.

"The project will also lead to major job creation within the construction sector in Belfast – over 100 jobs will be created during the development phase, and, upon completion, the site will be able to accommodate up to 2,500 office staff.

"Many companies, particularly working in IT and technology, are seeking work places that can accommodate large numbers of staff in one area, and that also come equipped with high ceilings and plenty of natural lighting, which is exactly what this property will offer once completed."

The planned work includes refurbishment of the ground floor office lobby and common areas throughout the building, as well as delivery of 24,000 sq ft floor plates, which, according to CBRE, are currently in short supply in Belfast city centre.

Council approval has also been given for a 104 apartment development for Knocknagoney, development of Hillview Retail Park, Crumlin Road, the creation of a new youth facility on the Ballygomartin Road and the erection of a four-to-six storey office building at the Gasworks.

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