Environment Minister Alex Attwood has announced his decision to grant planning permission for Royal Exchange, a £360million development that will “revitalise Belfast City Centre”.
It is one of the biggest planning applications ever dealt with in Northern Ireland, and follows on from Castle Court and Victoria Square as a major development in Belfast City Centre.
The Royal Exchange development will be constructed in the North East Quarter of the City in the area bounded by Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, Garfield Street and High Street. Whilst this area has been in decline for a number of years it was historically the centre of Belfast as it grew in the late 1800’s.
The development includes approximately 50,000 square metres of new retail floorspace – almost half of which will be housed within a single ‘anchor store’ – cafes/bars, a 25 bedroom hotel, over 200 apartments, offices, a new cultural arts centre, car parking for 1,066 vehicles and new public spaces.
The mix of retail, arts and leisure facilities will create a new vibrant environment beyond normal shopping hours.
It is claimed that it will further establish Northern Ireland’s capital as a major European regional city that will attract more visitors, further develop the evening economy and provide city centre living.
“This is tremendous news for Belfast in terms of both the environment and the economy,” said Mr Attwood.
“The proposal aims to create a new environment in the City and revitalise an area of Belfast that has been without meaningful development for a number of years.
“It is estimated that it will bring 3,000 much needed jobs – 1,000 for the construction phase and 2,000 jobs in retail and leisure once completed.”
He added: “I am convinced that we can redevelop our heritage and create many more jobs in a way that cherishes and protects our environment.”