Scottish entrepreneur scouting locations for multi-million pound Belfast business park

Marie Macklin pictured during her visit to Belfast earlier this week with DUP councillor Lee Reynolds. Ms Macklin's Klin Group plans to create a multi-million urban business park, which could create as many as 700 jobs

A SCOTTISH entrepreneur has announced plans to create a multi-million pound urban business park in the heart of Belfast.

Businesswoman Marie Macklin, the driving force behind the £65 million Halo project in her home town of Kilmarnock, visited the city this week to discuss initial plans to bring the urban regeneration concept to Northern Ireland and scout possible locations.

Construction on the Kilmarnock development begins next month and the 20-acre site on the former Johnnie Walker whisky bottling plant will feature housing, business units, manufacturing facilities a cyberskills centre, as well as a low-carbon district heating network

Speaking to the Irish News Ms Macklin, who is director of property investment and development company Klin Group, hopes something similar can be progressed in Belfast, with as many as 700 jobs created through an investment of up to £50 million.

"We're looking at various sites, but I'm predominantly looking for a brownfield site in the heart of the community," she explained.

"We're looking at between a 10 and 25 acre site and depending on what we put on the site, whether it's commercial, retail, whatever, we would then set a budget."

"You're talking anywhere between a £30 million and £50 million investment and the job creation in Kilmarnock is just under 1,400 jobs so you're looking at 700 potential jobs," she said.

Although she remains tight-lipped on possible locations for the major development, Ms Macklin said any work will not progress without extensive consultations with the local community, who are at the heart of the project. From there the developers will then seek private investment to move it forward.

"We want to be on site within at least a couple of years. We're committed to coming to Belfast if the people want us and what I'm hearing here is people are wanting other investors to come in."

"There's amazing work being done here, there's definitely a huge buzz about the place and I have been really made very welcome which is great," she added.

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