Historic Belfast shopping arcade destroyed by fire to return in revised ‘Tribeca’ proposal

An artist's impression of how the new North Street Arcade might look
An artist's impression of how the new North Street Arcade might look
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An historic 1930s art-deco shopping arcade in Belfast that was destroyed by a fire in 2004 is set to return “in a new format”, developers say.

A series of amendments to plans for the ‘Tribeca Belfast’ development at the Cathedral Quarter have been set out in a public consultation by developers.

The half-billion-pound regeneration project now includes the return of the North Street Arcade “in a new format with space for independent retailers”, Castlebrooke Investments said.

The current plans, prior to the latest changes, were first unveiled in November for a 12-acre site beside St Anne’s Cathedral and bordering Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, Lower Garfield Street and Rosemary Street to include 1,500,000 sq ft of residential space, office units as well as retail and hospitality elements.

The amended plans are now being put forward for what the developers called a “voluntary 10-week public consultation”.

The North Street Arcade was destroyed after arsonists targeted the shopping mall on April 17, 2004 by planting a number of incendiary devices inside.

A number of individuals were questioned, but there has never been a prosecution.

The former shopping mall was slated for demolition – with the exception of the outer facade – until the changes announced by Castlebrooke on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to the reopening of the once-iconic arcade, other changes include reducing the height of the office block on the corner of Rosemary Street and North Street.

It was initially intended to be 27 storeys, but has now been reduced to 10 storeys.

“There is also an increased allowance for green spaces, courtyards and residential space in line with the Belfast Agenda,” a Castlebrooke Investments spokesperson said.

“After careful review it has been determined that a greater number of historic streetscape on original buildings in the area can also be retained.”

Neil Young, chief executive of Castlebrooke Investments, said: “We are very pleased to be able to reveal our proposed amendments to our outline planning application for Tribeca Belfast, changes which we feel demonstrate that we have listened to feedback from the city.

“We will continue to listen and today we have launched a voluntary public consultation process into these planned changes ahead of the submission of our application.

“Our community exhibition will provide an opportunity for anyone interested to see the new plans and we will be revealing more information about this in the coming weeks.”

He continued: “We believe that the plans revealed today address many of the areas of concern which have been raised to date, including the revision of the height of the Grade A office block on the corner of Rosemary Street and North Street, more green spaces and further retention of the historic streetscape of North Street and Donegall Street.

“Most importantly we have committed to returning North Street Arcade to use in a new format which will encourage a vibrant population of independent retailers.”