£400m Sirocco development moves step closer

A computer generated image of the £400 million regeneration at the site of the former Sirocco Works
Gareth McKeown

THE £400 million regeneration of the former Sirocco Works site in east Belfast has moved a step closer after the submission of a planning application for a 250,000 sq ft office scheme as part of the project.

Vanguard Real Estate has submitted the plans, which, if successful, will see an initial £50 million investment and deliver the first major employment activity at the site in more than 20 years.

The Grade A office development, is the first phase of a transformational mixed-use masterplan designed by the award-winning Danish architects and master-planners Henning Larsen. The 'Belfast Waterside' development will encompass a mix of corporate office occupiers and city residents alongside an eclectic range of media, performance and digital activities all living, working and playing on the same campus. It is hoped the regeneration project at the 16-acre site could create as many as 5,500 jobs, 750 homes and almost 80,000 square metres of contemporary office space

Director of Vanguard Real Estate, Jim Osborne said he was pleased to begin the process of major transformation in east Belfast, following the completion of a pre-application community consultation.

“We are seeking to set a new benchmark for office space suitable for premium corporate occupiers. Recent reporting has indicated that Northern Ireland continues to attract FDI occupiers but an ongoing lack of quality supply is holding back office rental growth; recent analysis from CBRE outlines that Grade A office space remains in high demand from FDI and local companies. We engaged with several prominent office requirements at the earliest opportunity as part of our innovative approach to providing frictionless solutions for tenants and talks are progressing well.”

The Grade A office proposals have been submitted as phase one of wider plans to redevelop the largest brownfield city centre site in Belfast into a riverfront destination. It is hoped the office accommodation building will be the first step in creating modern workspace for 11.5 per cent of the 46,000 new jobs that Belfast City Council is seeking to create by 2035.

“This office application is our first step in realising our ambition," Mr Osborne continued.

"By 2020 there will be a thriving business and creative quarter, as Belfast Waterside emerges as a highly successful mixed-use regeneration scheme, including offices, a hotel, serviced apartments, residential units for sale and rent, affordable, social housing and significant retail and leisure space."

The residential and co-working elements of the scheme will be brought forward in the coming months, together with proposals for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge. Once completed it is the developer's hope that the £400m investment will reconnect the former Sirocco site with the rest of the city, providing 1.7 million sq ft of mixed use development.

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