Northern Ireland news

Belfast City Council 'must commit to save iconic Bank Buildings'

 The iconic Primark building has gone up in flames

An architectural charity has called on Belfast City Council to save the listed Bank Buildings after fire ripped through the Primark store yesterday.

The listed property, which has housed a Primark outlet since 1979, was built between 1885 and 1900.

Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH) said the building is a key part of the city's history.

It said lessons must be learned from two huge fires at the iconic Mackintosh Art School in Glasgow.

"While no one would suggest that the Bank Buildings compare to the unique Rennie Mackintosh building it is the relative importance to the City that is relevant, and the clear will to return a seriously damaged Glasgow landmark to the list of the City’s unique selling points," a spokesman for the UAH said.

"Given that, as in Glasgow, the Bank buildings will have been insured as a listed building and against fire, Ulster Architectural Heritage would like to see an immediate and clear commitment from Belfast City Council for the retention of the surviving Bank Buildings structure, shored up and made safe and, as with the Mackintosh, only essential and careful demolition undertaken with the removed stonework preserved for reuse in the rebuild."

Flames engulf the Primark store in Belfast city centre

The charity said the Bank Buildings are part of a key group of historic properties centred on Castle Junction in the city centre.

And it said the Primark building is a "fine example of High Victorian style"

"The building’s qualities of style, proportion and detail, together with the then innovative use of a steel frame which enabled the incorporation of much larger windows, strongly reflect the success of a city that was one of the most important and prosperous centres for trade and industry in the then British Empire," the charity said.

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