Northern Ireland

Developer confirms Havelock House demolition will go ahead on Monday

Campaigners say plea for delay to conduct historical survey of former home of UTV has been rejected

Havelock House in Belfast, former home of UTV and is due to be demolished on Monday. (Mal McCann)

THE demolition of UTV’s former headquarters in Belfast will go ahead on Monday despite pleas from heritage campaigners for a delay.

Lotus Property, part of the Banbridge-based group behind the Junction and Boulevard retail parks, has launched a bid to develop 105 social housing units on the Ormeau Road site.

The developer, which bought the site last year, launched a 12-week community consultation on its proposal in late November, with a public event scheduled for The Gasworks Hotel on January 18.

The proposal, submitted by Lotus subsidiary Genova North West, has been developed with the Clanmil Housing Association.

Despite being at an early stage in the planning process, and a previous developer failing to secure permission for an apartment scheme on the same site, Lotus confirmed it will begin demolishing UTV’s former home on Monday, one week before its community consultation website goes live.

Built in 1871 as a handkerchief factory, Havelock House became the home of UTV in 1959, until the broadcaster relocated to Belfast’s City Quays in 2018.

The Save Havelock House (SHH) campaign group said it has found evidence suggesting the building also served as a radar factory during World War II, which operated until 1946.

Lotus said the building’s condition upon acquisition was such that it could not be repaired or repositioned.

The Co Down group claimed its imminent demolition is necessary due to the building becoming a focal point for anti-social behaviour and posing a health and safety risk.

It said the unlisted status of the building means permission is not required to demolish it.

Havelock House in Belfast, former home of UTV and is due to be demolished. (Mal McCann)

Lotus also said the demolition was never intended to form part of its community consultation, which it said will be restricted to its design plans for the site.

SHH chairman Ken Griffin said his proposal for a pre-demolition historical survey to be carried out in the former television studios, had been rejected.

“We’re disappointed but not surprised by Lotus’s decision,” he said.

“The company has shown little respect for the building’s history and its importance within the development of the TV industry on these islands.

“We weren’t looking for anything extraordinary.

“We asked for a standard historical survey where a surveyor would take the photographs and measurements necessary so we had a basic understanding of the building and its features.”

Havelock House in Belfast, former home of UTV and is due to be demolished. (Mal McCann)

In response, Lotus said it had met with local elected representatives in recent months to outline the demolition plans and social housing proposal.

“We have also spoken with other stakeholders in the community and will continue to do so,” said a company spokesperson.

“There are issues of concern but the purpose of those meetings and the consultation process after will be to find a way forward so that much-needed social housing can be delivered at the Havelock site.”