'Container hotel' plans emerge for CS Lewis square in east Belfast

Freight Belfast could soon be joined by a new container hotel under plans by the Eastside Partnership. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Ryan McAleer

A POPULAR east Belfast restaurant built inside shipping containers could be joined by a ‘container hotel’ under a new plans.

The Eastside Partnership has submitted a bid for a five storey 21-bedroom hotel next to its community building at the gateway to CS Lewis Square on the Newtownards Road.

The site is already home to Freight Belfast, opened by brothers Gerard and Christy McQuillan two years ago.

The five converted shipping containers rank among Belfast’s most unique restaurants and have proved a draw for the burgeoning tourist industry being developed around CS Lewis Square.

Keen to expand on the attraction, the Eastside Partnership has submitted a planning application to Belfast City Council, with documents revealing the group is keen to retain the shipping container theme.

The social partnership, which emerged 25 years ago, has spearheaded a number of regenerative projects in east Belfast and actively promotes the area’s hospitality and tourism potential.

Its application describes a new 21-bedroom hotel on the corner of the Newtownards Road and Connswater Street next to the East Site Visitor Centre.

The plans describe a ground level café/bar, with the hotel integrating and extending the existing Freight restaurant.

Four floors of rooms would be built over a hotel bar, with rooms based on the size of shipping containers. Three floors will feature single container rooms, with the top floor made up of larger rooms.

Planning drawings produced by Hall Black Douglas.

The Eastside Partnership has tasked Hall Black Douglas Architects with designing the project.

The firm was involved with the East Side Visitor Centre and has a long portfolio of community, health and church buildings across the island of Ireland.

The hotel plans emerged as new figures showed that hotel occupancy rates in the north increased from 25 per cent in July to 57 per cent in August.

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) said ‘staycation’ visitors from across the border had significantly increased from the same months last year.

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