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BBC could move to Royal Avenue as part of ambitious Belfast city centre regeneration plan

By Jonny Bell

Published 22/09/2015

BBC NI's Ormeau Avenue headquarters could be sold-off.
BBC NI's Ormeau Avenue headquarters could be sold-off.

The BBC could move to a site off Royal Avenue under ambition new regeneration plans for Belfast city centre.

The council launched its  ‘Belfast: Future City – making it real' investment strategy this morning.

It's working with a range of groups and organisations on developing and transforming various areas of the city for business, retail, tourism and recreation.

The plan will also work to develop city centre green areas for cyclists and walkers and connect outlying areas to the centre and enhance shared spaces.

As part of the strategy an £18.7million investment fund has been announced.

It allows the council to support projects to help the local economy by assisting organisations with moving into certain areas of the city.

With the recent devolution of planning responsibilities, the council is keen to capitalise on its new powers.

It has emerged that sites off Royal Avenue, close to the new University of Ulster campus could be used as a new headquarters for the BBC in Belfast.

BBC NI bosses are considering their options for the current Ormeau Avenue base and have raised the prospect of moving to the Titanic Quarter in the past.

The council has set out its preferred options with sites behind Belfast Central Library, a site north of Great Patrick Street or even the possibility the Royal Exchange development could be suitable for the broadcaster's re-location.

Although many in the council are still hopeful of attracting a major retailer.

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Belfast City Council has recommended forming a working group to explore options, however, ultimately the decision on where the BBC goes, if it does decide to move, will rest with Beeb management.

A BBC spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: "BBC Northern Ireland is continuing to carefully review its property needs in order to provide audiences with the best possible service while also ensuring value for money.

"No decision has been made on a location for any potential new site."

Speaking at today's launch of the council's new regeneration and investment strategy, Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Guy Spence, said a new era was beckoning for Belfast.

He said: "With the new powers that have come our way with local government reform -  land use planning, community planning, regeneration, increased tourism powers - we now have the opportunity to build on current successes

“But we need to work in partnership with developers, business people, entrepreneurs and government agencies to deliver. We, as a council, can become the enablers, to make it easier for developers to develop, businesses to do business, for people to work live and play here. We all have a part to play.

“The City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy is significant as it is the result of an extensive consultation process during the past year.

"It will shape the development of the core of our city during the next 10-15 years.”

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