Ulster Hall fears over office building plan

A planning application for an office block in Belfast City Centre has been refused by the council on grounds it would be “overdominant” to the Ulster Hall and “interrupt” views of City Hall.

Sunday, 20th June 2021, 11:53 am

At Belfast Council’s Planning Committee an application by English company Domus UK Ltd for the erection of a seven storey office building at Linenhall Street was unanimously refused.

The plan involved the demolition of 27 to 37 Linenhall Street, 8 to 10 Clarence Street, as well as the car park on the junction of these streets. Elected members were recommended by council officers that the application should be refused.

A council officer told the committee: “The principle of an office building on the site is acceptable subject to other planning considerations. This site is within the city centre and in the main office area.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It is only in relation to design, demolition, impact upon the Linen conservation area and developer contributions that the proposal is considered unacceptable.”

He told councillors the application was considered “unacceptable by virtue of its scale, height, facade alignment, form and design”.

He added that it “would have an overdominant effect on the setting of the listed Ulster Hall,” and that it would would “have an overdominant effect on the street scene and interrupt views of City Hall, harming the character and appearance of the Linen conservation area.”

The demolition of buildings was also called into question, which the officer said “in the view of the council make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Linen conservation area”.

The proposal was also deemed to fail in providing public realm improvements on the footways of Linenhall and Clarence Street, and was described as “failing to enhance the setting of the conservation area”.

The Historical Environment Division at Stormont also objected to the proposal.

A representative for the applicant said that the proposed buildings for demolition “don’t contribute positively to the conservation area as it stands now”.

He added: “There are very important buildings, larger warehouses, things like the Ulster Hall, a number of significant listed buildings and non-listed buildings.

“The difficulty with this site is, when you look at it as a whole, it just presents a very negative corner, and it is really hard to see how you could effectively redevelop that  car park site on its own.”

He said the buildings on either side of the car park were “domestic in scale” and “seemed quite alien”.