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Green-light for key Belfast docklands development

Words: Roger Milne

A major boost for Belfast’s economy and the commercial clout of the province is in prospect now environment minister Mark H Durkan has approved proposals for a £250 million redevelopment scheme in Belfast docks, known as City Quays.

Located on a waterfront, city-centre site near Belfast Harbour Office, City Quays was masterplanned by award-winning architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw. Outline planning permission for the full City Quays scheme, which includes a mix of commercial offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotel and residential space, was granted last week.

Work on the first phase of the mixed-use scheme involving a state-of-the-art office block called City Quays 1, which offers some 83,000 square feet of Category A floor space, has just begun. A detailed planning application for City Quays 2, a £20 million, 124,000 sq ft office adjacent to City Quays 1, has already been submitted.

The proposals proved controversial as the Historic Monuments section of the Department of the Environment voiced concerns over the impact the high rise new building would have on older listed buildings at the site, principally the Harbour Commissioners Office and the Sinclair Seamen's Church.

"I have concluded that on balance the regeneration potential of the development coupled with the prospective economic benefits and associated job creation outweighs these concerns,” said Durkan.

He added: "The mix of residential and business uses plus a hotel, small scale retail services and restaurants will make this a vibrant hub which is more accessible for everyone. It will also provide a better link from the city centre along the river on the east of the M3 to the maritime heritage currently preserved at the heart of the site.”