New multi-million pound city centre office block set for approval

BEFORE AND AFTER...The current site and proposed new office block in Belfast
Gareth McKeown

A NEW multi-million pound office development is set to soon adorn the Belfast city centre skyline.

Proposals for a new seven-storey office block at the junction of Upper Queen Street and Wellington Street are recommended for approval at today's Belfast City Council planning committee meeting, adding to the offering of Grade A accommodation.

The development at Upper Queen Street and Wellington Street, being brought forward by English company Hegan and Company Ltd ,will see the demolition of the existing three storey building, which comprises retail units and a restaurant, to pave the way for a new seven-storey office block. The plans comprise 14,000 sq ft of office space on the upper floors on top of a retail unit on the ground floor.

In spite of possible concerns in relation to the demolition of a building, which originates from approximately 1860 and is located within a conservation area, no objections have been been received from any consultees including TNI Roads, Environmental Health, DEARA, and Historic Environment Division.

In recommending approval a council report states: "An important consideration in this case is the merits of the proposal against the contribution of the

existing building to the character of the Conservation Area. Given the Conservation officer opinion that the contribution is limited to its age only, in terms of design, the proposal would make an equal or greater contribution to the character of the Conservation Area. It is considered on balance, that the economic benefits and compliance with the majority of policies as discussed in the report outweigh the loss of this building."

The expected approval of the city centre office development comes as work is starting this month on the £50m office block Bedford Square Phase 2, with a view to being complete in 2020. The 17-storey scheme, incorporating the listed Ewart headquarters building on Bedford Street, will fill in the car park beside the Invest NI building.

At this evening's planning committee meeting development plans at Campbell College in Belfast are also set to receive the council green light.

The proposals for Campbell College on the Belmont Road have received no objections and include the demolition of an existing teaching block to make way for a new science building containing 10 classrooms, a 'social ampitheatre', sixth form study space, toilets, plant room, roof terrace and greenhouse.

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