Business

Planning approval expected for two major Belfast developments

The proposed Building Blocks development in the Smithfield area of Belfast city centre is set to receive planning permission
Gareth McKeown

TWO multi-million pound Belfast developments are due for planning approval this evening.

A major mixed-use scheme at a site close to Smithfield Market and a new £18 million student accommodation building have both been recommended for approval at Belfast City Council's planning committee meeting.

The 235,000 sq ft 'Building Blocks' development, being brought forward by Bywater Properties and Ashmour Developments, is set to create up to 650 jobs if given the green light. The development, which covers a one and a quarter acre car park site between Gresham Street and Winetavern Street, includes provision for first class office space as well as new units for independent businesses and retailers.

The plans also include the refurbishment of the listed former butcher’s building on the corner of Gresham Street and North Street, as well as new pedestrian access into Gresham Street and Winetavern Street

The scheme is anchored by The Mill Building, a 115,000 sq ft office block and 650 construction jobs are set to created during the course of the build. Once complete the development could provide employment for 1,500 people.

Speaking last year, Patrick O’Gorman from Bywater Properties revealed local independent traders are at the heart of the plans.

“We want to reinvigorate this part of the city into a vibrant, interconnected neighbourhood where independent retailers, coffee shops and local family businesses sit side by side with big international employers and their millennial workforce," he said.

"There’s no room for bland grey offices in our rejuvenated Smithfield area. This is a new, inclusive way of doing business. It is a fresh model of development that aims to encourage innovative ways of working and which is driven by creativity, collaboration and diversity," he added.

A 251-bedroom student housing development at a vacant site located over the railway line between Botanic Avenue and University Road is also set for approval this evening.

The proposal from Botanic Link Ltd, comprises 219 cluster beds and 32 studio flats, along with communal facilities and a retail/café unit on Botanic Avenue.

The scheme is being spearheaded by Anthony Best, managing director of Lacuna Developments, alongside Andrew Creighton, a director at William Ewart Properties, the owners of the site. Edinburgh-based Manson Architects has designed the plans.

The south Belfast site has long been the subject of development, but plans have never progressed. In 1999 a culvert was built over the existing railway line to pave the way for development, but the land has remained vacant. despite planning permission approved on two separate occasions in the past 20 years for residential schemes.

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