Building in historic Belfast quarter opens with new business after 20 years of lying empty

Council grant scheme is helping to revamp parts of city centre

High Society Cut Club Vacant To Vibrant
Left to right: High Society Cut Club owners Joao (Johnny) Jesus and Hannah McShane with dog Phoebe, are joined by Councillor Clíodhna Nic Bhranair, and Ashley Stewart, of Bywater.

A Belfast city centre property in the historic Smithfield market area that has lain empty for 20 years has opened with a new business thanks to an anti-vacancy drive.

Independent barbers the High Society Cut Club opened this month on the ground floor of 29 Gresham Street with the help of Belfast City Council’s Vacant to Vibrant capital grant scheme.

The property in the Smithfield and Union Quarter has been empty for two decades, with its shutters closed to passers by.

Sinn Féin councillor Clíodhna Nic Bhranair, who chairs the council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee said: “It’s fantastic to see our Vacant to Vibrant capital grant scheme supporting small businesses, independent retailers, social enterprises, and cultural and voluntary organisations to transform vacant spaces.”

She said independent businesses “help to make Belfast a more attractive, diverse, and inclusive place to visit, socialise, study, work, live, and invest in”.

The barbers plans to use the first floor of the property for a training academy next year.

To date, 19 city centre businesses have opened under the £1m pilot Vacant to Vibrant scheme, which offers grants of up to £25k.