McAleer and Rushe granted permission to build new Belfast hotel
Planning permission for a 206-bedroom hotel on the site of the former Belfast Metropolitan College has been granted to a County Tyrone development firm.
McAleer and Rushe acquired the site just over a year ago and intends to develop it with a mixed-use hotel and student accommodation scheme.
Belfast City Council approved plans for the 14-storey development, designed by Belfast-based Consarc Design Group.
It will also comprise restaurants, bars and meeting and conference space.
The site sits within an area known as 'The Linen Quarter' which Belfast City Council and other government agencies have targeted for major regeneration with plans including a major upgrade of the urban streetscape.
The hotel will have an entrance facing on to Blackstaff Square.
In a design and access statement submitted as part of the proposal, McAleer and Rushe said the hotel would make a "positive contribution" to the city by regenerating the site of an unoccupied building in the city centre.
It also said it would "create a strong development on a prominent corner" in the city centre and "improve the activity and dynamism in a developing area".
McAleer and Rushe property director, Stephen Surphlis, said: "This is great news for Belfast, as this is a centrally located hotel scheme, which is designed to complement Belfast's forward-looking aspirations and assist in meeting the undersupply in hotel provision.
"The Belfast leisure market has recovered strongly following the downturn, with figures confirming strong occupancy levels and increasing room rates," he added.
"This new hotel will help to satisfy increasing demand going forward as Belfast rapidly increases in popularity as a leisure and business destination."
Mr Surphlis said his firm has "received strong interest from established hotel operators and have already commenced demolition of the existing college building".
"We look forward to beginning construction early in 2016".
McAleer and Rushe also has plans for an adjacent 476-room student housing scheme on McClintock Street and 804-room student housing scheme on College Avenue.
The hotel and two student housing schemes will create in excess of 300 jobs during the building phase, giving a much need boost to the Northern Irish construction sector.