Northern Ireland news

Bar and cinema among proposed plans submitted for development of empty Debenhams unit at CastleCourt

Debenhams on Royal Avenue closed earlier this year. Picture by Mal McCann

A BAR and cinema are among the proposed plans submitted for the development of the empty Debenhams unit at CastleCourt in Belfast.

A planning application lodged with Belfast City Council also reveals that part of the site could become an entertainment area to include crazy golf, lazer quest, indoor caving, escape rooms, bumper cars and a virtual reality arcade.

New plans developed by the shopping complex also involve converting part of the former department store into a coffee shop and retail units, which could significantly re-shape the vacant site's first and second floors.

It comes just months after the Debenhams store on Royal Avenue, which opened in 1990, closed its doors in the city centre complex for the final time.

The retail giant collapsed into administration last year and reopened its physical stores after lockdown only to sell off its remaining stock.

But the owners of CastleCourt hope to develop the empty unit with their plans including sub-dividing the ground floor for a coffee shop and retail units and a cinema with associated bar and family entertainment area among the proposed ideas for the first and second floors.

In its detailed proposal, it states that "Royal Avenue was once the main shopping street/ hub within Belfast City Centre, and over the last few decades the area has witnessed a gradual decline with many commercial units along this stretch now lying vacant"

"This once bustling thoroughfare lies lifeless at certain times of the day," it states in the planning proposal.

"The aim is to breathe new life into this area of the city centre, which has seen an increasing decline in daytime/ night-time activity, fast becoming one of the most vacant and dilapidated areas of the city centre."

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Northern Ireland news