Up to £19,000 for businesses ‘worst affected’ by Primark fire

Businesses worst affected by the Primark fire will be able to apply for financial help worth up to £19,000, Belfast City Council has said.

Fewer than 14 small city centre firms unable to reopen within an exclusion zone established for safety reasons will be eligible for the maximum amount of help.

The burnt out remains of the Primark store in Belfast city centre

The burnt out remains of the Primark store in Belfast city centre

Around 90 businesses in the area are in line for varying amounts of funding to help them get back on their feet.

The money is coming from a £500,000 donation from Primark, which is being divided up by the city council.

The fund will be open for a six-week period until Monday November 19.

In August the historic building housing the clothing firm was destroyed by a blaze which burned for days.

Nearby businesses have been badly disrupted and their owners expressed concern about the impact on Christmas trade as engineering work continued.

The Primark money was given on the understanding that it would provide direct support to affected small businesses and that the resources would be focused on local traders.

Those eligible will be independent retailers and single location franchises with fewer than 50 employees, charities and offices displaced by the fire.

City councillor Jim Rodgers said: “We have tried to make this as fair and simple a process as possible.

“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.”

Multinational chain stores affected, such as Tesco and Zara, are not eligible for the money.

Belfast City Council said it hopes the main road through the city centre, between Donegall Place and Royal Avenue, can reopen to pedestrians before Christmas.