IN PICTURES: Plan to turn derelict NI tea factory into eight-storey hotel
Proposals to turn a former Belfast tea factory into a large hotel have taken a new twist.
Permission was applied for two years ago to demolish the old empty Nambarrie building on Victoria Street, in the city centre.
Developers had bought both it and the adjoining Justice Building on Waring Street (currently occupied by the Youth Justice Agency).
The initial idea was to turn the buildings into a seven-storey 151-room hotel run by the brand Moxy – an offshoot of Marriott.
But this application apparently went nowhere; there’s no mention of a decision ever being made to approve or reject it.
Now a new application has gone in, adding an extra floor to the earlier plans, raising the number of rooms to 170, and ensuring that the Nambarrie building will be retained, not levelled.
The new hotel would still be run by Moxy, and the plans include a ground floor bar/restaurant, fitness centre, and a rooftop bar “that will provide unique views over the Cathedral Quarter”.
The site stands immediately adjacent to Transport House – the defunct former HQ of Unite the Union.
It is also just across the road from a homeless shelter / drug addiction centre, run by the Salvation Army.
Nambarrie was founded in the 1860s in Belfast.
Its Victoria Street premises were flattened by the Luftwaffe in 1941, but later rebuilt.
The site is usually described as a factory, but is sometimes described as a packaging warehouse.
It operated until 2008, when the firm (by then owned by Twinings of Hampshire) relocated much of its production to Poland.
The new application was submitted at the end of March; the News Letter found it by chance while combing the government’s planning website.
It has come from a company called Waring Street Ltd, formerly known as Killer Investments and run by two directors: David Marshall and Colin Sandy, businessmen with interests in a string of firms in England.
The new plan will involve “retaining around 95% of the physical fabric of both buildings” (the Nambarrie factory and the Justice Building).
The application says retaining the buildings instead of bulldozing them will cost developers an extra £3m; that is why the number of rooms has been increased – to make up for this additional cost.
• The News Letter reported last week on plans for a new nine-storey office block next to the Bar Library on Victoria Street; a decision on it was due from Belfast City Council last Thursday, but has been postponed for further discussions with the developer.
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