Primark has assured traders around its Belfast City Centre store that it is doing everything it can to resolve the problem of an exclusion zone which was placed around it after it was destroyed by fire.
The blaze, which took place at the end of August, has left the historic ‘Bank Buildings’ at Castle Junction in a fragile state and has resulted in a safety cordon begin erected around it. This has caused serious disruption to nearby traders, some of whom have been unable to reopen.
A spokesman for Primary said this afternoon: “Primark is doing everything we can to resolve the cordon issue and start work on Bank Buildings as soon as possible. We continue to work with a number of stakeholders to navigate the required legal and planning processes this involves.
“Bank Buildings is a listed building of historical significance to Belfast. We are committed to a conservation-led approach to works on the building to preserve as much of the original building as possible. 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.
“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.”
Belfast City Council later issued a statement in response to Primark’s announcement today that it is to submit a listed building consent application:
“Belfast City Council welcomes the statement from Primark today outlining their intention to submit a listed building consent application this week,” the council said. “We are ready to receive and assess the application.”
The council said the process is as follows;-
- “We receive the application and initiate the public consultation which includes a press notice in the coming days. We formally engage our stakeholders- HED (DFC) and DFI with a 21 day duration to receive submissions.
- “We then assess all submissions from consultees.
- “Following that, we put together an officer report with a recommendation, and that goes to Planning Committee for decision.”
In recent weeks Belfast City Council said that after expert assessment of the building, there can be “no quick fix”.
The local authority said engineers are facing considerable difficulties as they work to establish whether the shell of the listed building can be saved, or will have to be demolished.
It was responding to a statement from Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH) which claims there was “confusion” over the future of the building, with some reports describing the damaged structure as “unstable”, while others make clear that investigations are continuing.