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Controversial Belfast regeneration scheme hits a glitch

Words: Roger Milne
Belfast city centre

A £300 million scheme to redevelop the north of Belfast city centre has hit planning problems after city planners requested extra information about the project masterplan drawn up by Northside Regeneration Ltd.

This was meant to provide a comprehensive regeneration framework for the area around North Street, Royal Avenue, Donegall Street and Millfield. It included proposals for a hotel, commercial space, student flats and retail units as well as social housing in the Clifton Street area.

The development team, chosen by the Department for Social Development, said: “Further to our submission of our outline planning application the planning authorities requested supplementary information on environmental impacts. The extent and scope of the information requested required more time than was available within the deadline set and, regrettably, this has resulted in our application being determined as “deemed refused”.

The statement added: “We will be resubmitting our application and re-entering the planning application process.”

The scheme has caused considerable controversy partly because of the threat to a number of historic buildings, including an award-winning pub that is a popular live music venue.

A city council spokesman said: “In taking planning decisions for this area, the council will take into account the council’s own strategy for the city centre, the adopted Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan and all other material planning policies and factors. The council is fully aware of the value of heritage assets in the city centre and indeed has recently supported the listing, by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, of numerous buildings across the city.”

In a related move the council has refused proposals for an 11-storey student flat block on the site of an existing warehouse in the Northside area.

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