Dilapidated historic Belfast police station ‘nearing collapse’ says hotel developer

A developer has told the News Letter he is fearful a historic police station in the heart of Belfast could soon be lost for good.
Views of the building (from GoogleMaps) in 2010 and 2019, showing the gradually-growing delapidation of the siteViews of the building (from GoogleMaps) in 2010 and 2019, showing the gradually-growing delapidation of the site
Views of the building (from GoogleMaps) in 2010 and 2019, showing the gradually-growing delapidation of the site

Andre Graham says that the old Queen Street station in the city centre is unlikely to “last another winter”.

He has plans to turn the building, which was believed to have been abandoned by the PSNI in the middle of the 2000s, into a 74-bedroom hotel.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He had bought the site around three years ago, and is trying to develop it with his company Big Top Productions.

“We want to save the building. I doubt it’ll last another winter,” he said, adding that about 18 months ago someone stole the lead off the building, and that water is getting into it.

Patching it up temporarily with tarpaulin could cost £80,000 he said, but to date about £100,000 has been spent on architect and consultants drawing up plans, and then going back and redrafting them.

One beam holding up a gable wall is now “so deteriorated that it’s in danger of collapsing – and if that goes the whole side gable will collapse and the building would be gone”, he added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Graham, a native New Zealander who has lived in Northern Ireland since 1998 (having first come to the island a few years earlier as a property manager for Sony), went on to say that he has already reduced the number of planned rooms from what he considered a minimum viable level of 80 to 74.

“This building in 2006 was reported as a building at serious risk – it had deteriorated to such an extent it was borderline whether it could be saved,” he said.

“I’d have thought they’d be willing or wanting to work with a developer quickly to iron out these problems so we can get this building saved.

“For us, from a developer’s point of view, if that building collapsed it’d be an easier situation for us.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We could just clear the site and build something taller and it’d be financially more viable.

“But we’ve really stuck with this because we feel the building is an important asset for Belfast.”

It is not the only long-running saga surrounding a would-be hotel development in a historic building in Belfast city centre.

The plans for a George Best Hotel, on the corner of Donegall Square North (just behind City Hall) have been in pipeline for years, but have recently foundered.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, it was reported in late April that much of the renovation work has been done, and there are still hopes for it to open this year.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe


Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.