Small businesses impacted by the Bank Buildings fire will be able to apply for funding of up to £19,000 to aid their financial recovery Belfast City Council has confirmed.
The payments will come from the £500,000 offered by Primark in the wake of the fire that gutted the store at the end of August.
The news comes as the council confirmed it had received a Listed Building Consent Application from the firm outlining its proposals for rebuilding the historic store.
Payments to businesses in and outside the cordon were approved by members of the council’s strategic policy resources committee. The fund will be open for a six-week period until Monday, November 19.
The following criteria will be applied to businesses within the zone:
:: independent retailers with less than 50 employees;
:: offices displaced by the fire;
:: single location franchises with less than 50 employees.
Under these criteria, 90 businesses in Castle Street, Castle Lane, Bank Square, Berry Street, King Street, Royal Avenue, Lower Garfield Street and Castle Court have been identified as being eligible to apply for funding.
The scheme does not include any multi-national chain stores or multiple location franchisees.
Businesses within the cordon will be allocated more support than those outside, given the increased level of impact on their business:
:: Independent retailers/charities inside the cordon - £19,000
:: Offices inside the cordon - £2,000
:: Affected independent/small businesses outside the cordon within the defined zone - £5,000
“We have tried to make this as fair and simple a process as possible,” said committee chair Jim Rodgers.
“We know some traders may be disappointed that they don’t meet the eligibility criteria but we have had to introduce an eligibility scheme which will see the money go to those who need it most.
“We have also carried out extensive consultation with the businesses themselves over the last number of weeks, along with our city partners including Belfast City Centre Management, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and Belfast One.”