Officials back bid to raze Park Avenue Hotel for affordable housing scheme

CGI of the apartment buildings proposed for the site of the former Park Avenue Hotel in Belfast.

BELFAST City Council planning officials have recommended approval for a proposal to demolish the former Park Avenue Hotel to make way for a housing scheme.

The recommendation, due to be considered by the council’s planning committee on Thursday, will pave the way for an affordable housing-led scheme containing 79 apartments and 11 townhouses.

It comes just over two years after the struggling east Belfast hotel was bought out of administration by Bill Wolsey's Beannchor Group, whose other hotels include The Merchant and Bullitt.

The long-established hotel traded for another year before closing last summer.

Beannachor and Holywood-based developer Lacuna have partnered with Choice Housing to launch a new residential venture on the site.

The proposal is for two apartment blocks facing onto Holywood Road and Park Avenue, comprising 75 units, with 11 townhouses and four apartments on the Sefton Drive side.

The report prepared for Belfast City Council’s planning committee acknowledged 75 objections to the plans, but no major objections lodged by statutory bodies.

The Historic Environment Division recommended altering the design to protect views of the Harland & Wolff cranes. But officers said it would make the scheme unviable in terms of space standards for social housing.

Officers also approved the removal of 22 trees, including 13 subject to preservation orders, stating they were satisfied with the commitment to plant 70 new trees, adding the demand for social housing outweighed the concerns over the trees.

The report revealed that in March 2020 there were 934 applications for social housing in the surrounding area, including 522 people in housing stress. It said a five-year assessment of housing requirement had identified a need for 258 new units.

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