Officials recommend refusal for £10m office block next to Belfast's Ulster Hall

An artistic impression previously produced in support of Domus UK's proposed Linen Quarter development.

PLANNING officials in Belfast have recommended city councillors reject a developer's bid for a £10 million office development due to the impact it could have on the Ulster Hall and the character of the Linen Quarter.

Surrey-based Domus UK wants to demolish two existing buildings at the corner of Linenhall Street and Clarence Street to make way for a single 54,000 modern grade A office building.

The developer's original bid for an eight-storey building was submitted in 2019, but later withdrawn.

The latest incarnation of its proposal is back in front of Tuesday's Belfast City Council planning committee with officials recommending refusal.

The report prepared for councillors, states the proposed building's scale, height, massing, façade alignment, form and design, would have an over-dominant impact on the grade A listed Ulster Hall.

The report also states that the existing buildings make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Linen Conservation Area.

It adds that the new office building “would have an over-dominant impact on the street scene and interrupt framed views northwards of City Hall, harming the character and appearance of the Conservation Area”.

Officials also cited the lack of public realm improvements to the footways of both streets.

Moreover, NI Water the waste water treatment infrastructure does not have sufficient capacity to serve the proposed development and no acceptable, alternative solution has been proposed.

The full report is due to be considered by the council's planning committee on Tuesday June 15.

Domus UK's other projects in Belfast include a £25m 717-unit student accommodation development in York Street, due to open in September 2021.

The developer has also signalled potential plans to develop another site next to the Ulster Hall, fronting onto Bedford Street, which given the planning concerns over the £10m proposal, could face stark opposition.

Domus UK is ultimately owned by New York headquartered NCH Capital.

NCH initially began investing in Russia in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, it has launched 25 funds around the world.

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