Developer moves ahead with plans for hotel in former Queen Street police station

The former police station on Queen Street. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Ryan McAleer

A BELFAST developer has moved ahead with plans to transform a former police station into a 74-bedroom boutique hotel.

Built in 1878, the listed building on Queen Street was originally developed for the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

It was used as a police station after the Victoria-era hospital relocated to the Royal Victoria site in the early 1930s. The RUC occupied it between 1934 until 1993.

The building has been vacant for the past 27 years.

Big Top Productions went public with its hotel plans in late 2018. Now it has officially moved ahead with the proposal by submitting a planning application to Belfast City Council.

Industry monitor Construction Information Services Ireland has valued the project at approximately £7 million.

The company is owned by Andre Graham and Seamus Sweeney, who previously ran The Kremlin nightclub in Belfast, before selling up in 2014.

Their application has been accompanied with extensive documentation. It includes a photographic report chronicling the significant state of disrepair of the building’s interior.

The premises were granted grade B1 listed status in 1979.

Big Top Production’s proposal involves demolishing part of the building’s rear, replacing it with a new block.

The application also provides for a bar and restaurant on the site.

One report states: “The architectural intention of the proposed scheme is to sensitively refurbish the historic block fronting onto Queen Street, remove the existing rear block and build a new multi-storey extension in its place.”

It further asserts that the building underwent “radical undocumented transformation” during the RUC-era.

“Indeed such is the difference between the historic plan and that of the existing premises, it might indicate that the back block was at some stage virtually or completely demolished to make way for a more cellular building. In any case, little of the original hospital is identifiable.”

The hotel is among a number of developments proposed for the Queen Street area.

McAleer and Rushe is behind a £60m proposal to develop the Norwich Union House site, which includes a multi-storey car park facing onto Queen Street. Oakland Holdings has secured planning permission for a 175-room apart-hotel on the site of the Lyndon Court building, while Argento boss Pete Boyle is behind plans to develop 50,000 sq ft of office and retail space in the former R Carswell & Son’s printworks building.

In November, Big Top Productions announced plans to redevelop a former pub in Glasgow into serviced apartments.

Annie Millers on Ropeworks Lane, had traditionally been popular with fans of Glasgow Rangers. It closed in May 2017

An artist's impression of the hotel proposed by Big Top Productions.

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