Northern Ireland

Belfast waterfront regeneration dispute resolved

Titanic Quarter
Image caption Differences had emerged over the interpretation of the master agreement signed by the parties in 2004

A High Court battle that threatened to delay major new developments on Belfast's waterfront has been settled.

The city's harbour commissioners and developer Titanic Quarter Ltd were in dispute over an agreement for the 185-acre site's regeneration.

On Thursday, a judge was told they have signed a memorandum of understanding to resolve their differences.

The judge agreed to stay the action, with both sides picking up their own legal bill.

The commissioners and Titanic Quarter have worked together for more than a decade to deliver projects including a financial services centre and commercial, education, residential and leisure facilities.

The area also contains the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, film studios and the Northern Ireland Science Park.

Other schemes for which planning permission has already been granted include office blocks and a new four-star boutique hotel.

Differences over master agreement

Differences emerged over the interpretation of the master agreement signed by the parties in 2004.

The commissioners, who own the site, issued proceedings aimed at clarifying the terms of the contract with tenants Titanic Quarter which runs until 2030.

At the start of a scheduled three-day hearing, it was claimed that the developer wanted to be able to take projects to its landlord as a "fait accompli".

In a counter allegation, Titanic Quarter's barrister accused the commissioners of trying to put up "roadblocks" to new developments.

However, following out-of-court discussions, it was announced on Thursday that a memorandum of understanding has been drawn up.

It acknowledges the master agreement as being a framework agreement with obligations on both parties.

They are to consider all proposals with an open mind, honestly and with a view to reaching agreement, if possible.

A barrister for the commissioners confirmed neither side has an unqualified veto on any particular project.

Instead, he pointed out, the parties have to consult and act in good faith.

The memorandum does not require justification of any refusal of a development scheme.

Welcoming the resolution, the judge said: "As far as the future is concerned the court hopes matters will proceed well between the parties, and for the benefit of Belfast and Northern Ireland."

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