Business

Forestside: New owners lodge plans for fourth new restaurant at Belfast shopping centre

An artistic representation of the fourth restaurant planned for the Forestside site.
An artistic representation of the fourth restaurant planned for the Forestside site. An artistic representation of the fourth restaurant planned for the Forestside site.

THE new owners of Belfast’s Forestside shopping centre are pressing ahead with plans for a 'food village' after submitting an application to build a fourth new restaurant at the site.

Michael and Lesley Herbert completed the £42 million acquisition of the retail asset in September this year, and immediately announced plans to expand its food and leisure offering.

Forestside’s previous owners secured planning permission in 2020 for three new restaurant units in the car park area.

Forestside Acquisitions Ltd, now under the ownership of the Herberts, has submitted an application to Belfast City Council to extend that to four new venues.

Speaking in September following the completion of the deal to buy the retail site, Michael Herbert said: “There are going to be three major restaurants. We have them all under offer.”

He told BBC Radio Ulster that he expects work on the three restaurants to commence in early 2024.

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The plans approved in 2020 provide for three units at 1,400 sq ft, 3,445 sq ft and 2,755 sq ft.

The application for the fourth restaurant would see an additional unit built onto that block at the Upper Galwally entrance to Forestside.

“We’re going to fast track it to build it quickly,” said the developer.

While the new units will replace car parking space, Mr Herbert suggested that additional car parking will be found in other areas.

A planning drawing showing where the new unit would be built.
A planning drawing showing where the new unit would be built. A planning drawing showing where the new unit would be built.

The businessman, who sold his fast food empire of 146 KFC restaurants in 2020, said he plans to develop Forestside into more of a family attraction, potentially introducing a new cinema.

“We’ve done a lot of analysis, we’ve looked at other centres in England and other centres in the United States and this is the future,” he said.

“We don’t see why it won’t work in Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, Mr Herbert has this week placed a listed Belfast city centre building on the market for £800,000.

The Royal Chambers building at 33-39 Royal Avenue is on the edge of the controversial Tribeca site between Royal Avenue and North Street.

Mr Herbert’s development firm Kirk Bryson, launched a planning application in 2021 to redevelop the building into 13 one-bedroom apartments and a ground level restaurant.

The Royal Chambers building on Royal Avenue as it is now (left) and a planning drawing submitted by Kirk Bryson in 2021 (right).
The Royal Chambers building on Royal Avenue as it is now (left) and a planning drawing submitted by Kirk Bryson in 2021 (right). The Royal Chambers building on Royal Avenue as it is now (left) and a planning drawing submitted by Kirk Bryson in 2021 (right).