Primark, owner of the Bank Buildings ravaged by fire two months ago, appears to intend to rebuild the listed structure.
In a statement issued ahead of an application to Belfast City Council expected on Friday, the firm said it was “committed to a conservation-led approach to works on the building to preserve as much of the original building as possible”.
The firm also held out some hope for the traders blighted by the cordon around the gutted building since the blaze on August 28.
“Primark and Belfast City Council have also been focused on finding a way to reduce the cordon and open up the Castle Place junction as soon as possible. We are in ongoing dialogue and hope to have a solution soon,” the statement said.
After weeks of investigation and examination, the proposal for the building is expected to be discussed at a meeting atBelfast City Hall.
“Primark is submitting a Listed Building Consent Application this week. This application is legally required before we can carry out any work on Bank Buildings, the statement said, adding that the company hoped to start work on the site as soon as possible..
“Bank Buildings is a listed building of historical significance to Belfast. We continue to work with a number of stakeholders to navigate the required legal and planning processes this involves.
The City Council said it welcomed the move, stating that it was “ready to receive and assess the application”.
The application was also welcomed by president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Rajesh Rana, who said it was good news for traders.
“I suppose we need to wait to see what the application consists of but, in any case we, as Belfast Chamber, have never expressed a view of what the right solution would be, we just want to see a solution come forward in the shortest possible time.
“Our key concern is how quickly, first of all, can the application be processed and, secondly, what other works are proposed and what the time frame is for those.
“Obviously that needs to be the very shortest posisble time.
“We really need to see pedestrian movement re-opened in time for the bulk of the Christmas trading and that’s really critical.”
Once received, there is a three week consultation periond after the which a report is prepared and the application goes to planning for a decision.