£75m vision to redevelop former Belfast Telegraph building into 'The Sixth'
THE new owners of the former Belfast Telegraph's iconic Royal Avenue headquarters have revealed their vision to invest £75 million to turn the building into a commercial, retail and leisure complex capable of delivering 2,000 high-end jobs.
Plans for the scheme were presented to investors and developers at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes by the site's owners Bel Tel LLP, comprising Belfast City Council and McAleer & Rushe.
And in a nod to the history of the 132-year-old building, the scheme will be known as ‘The Sixth’, inspired by the newspaper’s original evening edition where street vendors’ call of “Sixth Late Tele” was familiar throughout Belfast for more than a century.
The proposed redevelopment, focused on state-of-the-art workspace, will include 230,000 sq ft of commercial space and ‘active’ ground floor uses such as cafes, restaurants and retail.
Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architectural practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in Bristol, the proposals are expected to deliver 2,000 high value jobs as part of an emerging creative district centred on the education, culture, media and technology sectors.
The announcement at MIPIM comes as a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the scheme was submitted by Bel Tel LLP, which acquired the site in October 2016 when the Belfast Telegraph relocated to Clarendon Dock.
The submission of the PAN is seen as marking a significant step forward for the project, which will also create 650 jobs during the construction phase.
A planning application for the scheme will be submitted following a 12-week pre-application community consultation led by planning consultants Turley.
The consultation, which includes an open public meeting on April 24, will provide local residents, businesses and other members of the public with an opportunity to see and comment on the plans.
Stephen Surphlis, property director of McAleer and Rushe, said: “These are important proposals that will bring a landmark building associated with the news industry back into use for a digital age.
"Adjacent to both the Ulster University Campus and Central Library, The Sixth will play an important role in the regeneration of Belfast by delivering high quality workspace for global and local businesses, particularly those in the professional, creative and technology sectors”.
Councillor Mairead O’Donnell, chair of Belfast City Council’s City growth and regeneration committee, added: “This is an exciting milestone for what is the Council’s first joint venture with a private sector developer.
"As part of the delivery of our City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy, the Council made the strategic decision to invest in this part of the city centre and stimulate further regeneration.
"The partnership’s proposals will help to re-energise this area with a scheme that has been designed to respect the existing built heritage in this part of the city, and The Sixth will build on the momentum already generated by the Ulster University investment.”