Northern Ireland

Planning application for major Belfast rebuild scheme

The area between Royal Avenue and the Cathedral Quarter is set to be redeveloped
Image caption The area between Royal Avenue and the Cathedral Quarter is set to be redeveloped

A planning application for a major multi-million pound redevelopment of part of Belfast city centre has finally been submitted.

The application came five years after the Royal Exchange project was announced.

There had been fears the project would be moth-balled when the Department for Social Development temporarily withheld more than £100m of funding support.

It aims to redevelop an area between Royal Avenue and the Cathedral Quarter.

The company behind the plan, Leaside Investments, is a consortium of two Northern Ireland firms William Ewart and Snoddons and a Dutch firm ING.

The Royal Exchange Scheme was first announced by the government in 2006 with the aim to regenerate run down and semi derelict parts of Belfast city centre.

Plans

The area between Donegall Street and Royal Avenue takes in the historic North Street arcade which was burnt down in 2004.

Image caption An artist's impression of the Royal Exchange project

The listed building has not been touched since and there has been criticism that the project has not moved quickly enough.

The plans for the development include more than 200 apartments, a hotel, an arts centre, car parks and retail units.

The developers have said it will rejuvenate a neglected part of Belfast city centre.

They had signed an agreement with the Department of Social Development which will mean the scheme will receive some public funding.

One of the terms of that agreement meant that the planning application needed to be lodged by the end of this month.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood welcomed the lodging of the planning application.

"I would encourage all stakeholders and the general public to provide their views on the application as it proceeds through planning," Mr Attwood said.

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