Planning permission granted for new retail and leisure scheme ‘The Keep’ in Belfast

Alterity Investments will commence redevelopment of former BHS building this year

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 8:21 am

Belfast-based Alterity Investments has welcomed Belfast City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for its proposed retail and leisure development in the city, known as The Keep.

Alterity has exciting plans to refurbish and reconfigure the 70,000 sq ft former British Home Stores building on Castle Lane, as part of a multimillion-pound investment that will provide a significant boost to the city centre.

When Alterity acquired the building in early 2021 it had been sitting empty for almost five years, after retailer BHS went into administration in 2016.

Computer generated image of the proposed redevelopment

Alterity’s plans include a significant reconfiguration of the ground floor space into a number of retail units and a partial change of use on upper floors to allow for leisure uses. Permission has been granted to alter the existing façade on Castle Lane, Castle Arcade and Cornmarket to make it more attractive, as well as changes to internal staircases and walls.

The company said that it intends to begin work on the building soon after the summer and expects to complete the construction phase within 12 months.

Richard Faloon, commercial director of Alterity Investments, said: “Alterity is a local company and having invested in property throughout England and Scotland in recent years, we are delighted to see this major investment into Belfast City centre granted planning permission to proceed.

“The project represents a substantial investment in the city centre and we believe that as well as regenerating the site, it will also help revitalise the surrounding area and benefit the existing holdings the company already has in the Castle Lane and Cornmarket area.”

Frazer Kidd is commercial agent for the property, which comprises three upper floors and a ground floor that opens onto Castle Lane, Castle Arcade and Cornmarket.

Brian Kidd from Frazer Kidd, explained: “It is really positive for Belfast that planners have approved Alterity’s plans for the Keep building. Alterity is an investor with a proven track record and it is a vote of confidence in the city that they have committed to bringing this landmark building back into use in a way that meets the needs of modern retailers and leisure operators.

“We have seen really strong interest from international occupiers in the retail and leisure sectors in this prime location between Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and City Centre core, and we hope to be in the position to confirm details of some of those occupiers in the coming months.”

Alterity Investments was formed in 1975 and is a family-owned property and investment company. Operating throughout the UK, it has assets in excess of £100m spread across various sectors and owns several other buildings in central Belfast, including other retail sites on Castle Lane.

Its properties are situated in prime locations across the UK, with its client portfolio including companies such as Joules, Waterstones, Lloyds Bank, Starbucks, Costa, Greggs and Cotswold.