Old church hall set to become orchestra hub

A listed Presbyterian church hall beside the Westlink motorway in Belfast is to be converted into a base for the Ulster Orchestra.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 25th June 2022, 8:51 am

At the most recent meeting of Belfast City Council’s planning committee, councillors agreed to an application by Townsend Street Presbyterian Church for a change of use from a church hall to offices at 32 Townsend Street.

Both the church and church hall are listed buildings.

The church hall is a three storey detached hall, built in 1876-78 as a school, lecture hall, and sexton’s house. 

The Ulster Orchestra

The council report states: “The Old Schoolhouse is situated to the rear of the church. It is proposed the building is used for office space.

“The building is to be used as the administrative offices of the Ulster Orchestra.

“It has three floors – the ground floor includes offices, file storage, meeting room and other ancillary facilities, whilst the first floor contains open plan office space, training room and a breakout area.

“No office accommodation is included on the second floor. Occasionally the Ulster Orchestra will use the space to meet prior to rehearsal, which currently happens within the adjacent Church.”

The Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division raised no objection to the proposal.

None of the other statutory partners objected, apart from Northern Ireland Water.

This objection however was dismissed by the council.

The report states: “The application is brought to committee as Northern Ireland Water object to the proposal as there is insufficient capacity at the wastewater treatment works.

“The applicant has submitted calculations which indicate there will be a reduction in the amount of water usage as a result of the change of use.

“Officers consider that there would be no significant impact on the infrastructure from this development relative to its current use.”

There were no other objections to the council from residents or businesses.