Council rejects plans to redevelop listed former schoolhouse in Belfast's Market area
BELFAST city councillors have unanimously rejected plans to build office space and apartments on the site of the former St Malachy's School and an adjacent warehouse in the Market area of the city centre.
An application to convert the listed former school, built in 1878, on Sussex Place and a warehouse on Rathbone Street was lodged on behalf of Xafinity Pension Trustees Ltd in May 2020.
The proposal suggested converting the historic former schoolhouse to a cafe and office space and turning the warehouse into apartments, according to documents listed on the planning public access website.
However, residents lodged hundreds of objections, saying that the plans would have a negative impact on the community.
Belfast City Council's planning committee unanimously rejected the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
SDLP councillor Gary McKeown said the Market is one of the last thriving communities in inner-city Belfast.
He told The Irish News the proposals "seemed to jar with both the character of the area and the building".
"There were concerns about the plans and also how they fitted in with the general architecture of the area," he said.
"In the view of the committee, it made for a proposal that wasn't acceptable or appropriate for that particular location.
"The community would prefer the building to be used as a community facility as it had been for over a century."
Mr McKeown said "no one is opposed to development of the site but it needs to be something which is complementary to the local area".
The former St Malachy's School ran until 1988. The building was later used as a nursery, youth club and boxing club until 2014.
The Save the Market campaign group has previously said it would like the former school to be used as a community hub.