Belfast centre hotel plan gets green light: £12m redevelopment of landmark building is welcomed by minister
A £12m redevelopment plan that will see one of Belfast city centre's most iconic listed buildings transformed into a boutique hotel has been given the go-ahead.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has approved listed building consent to sympathetically convert the former Scottish Mutual building into a hotel opposite the City Hall.
Two bars and two restaurants will be created on the ground and first floors, while the upper three floors in the 42,000 square foot, five-storey building will be upgraded to accommodate up to 40 hotel bedrooms and 10 serviced apartments.
The Grade B1 listed building in Donegall Square is within the Linen Conservation Area. The imposing building dates back to 1904 and is partially occupied.
The Hill family from Ballymena, owners of the Galgorm Resort & Spa, bought the landmark property after it was put on sale by the Republic's toxic bank, Nama.
Their company, Tullymore House Limited, said the revamp will boost the city centre's tourism economy, creating more than 180 full and part-time jobs.
Project manager Colin Johnston said: "We're delighted that the Department of Environment's planning department and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan have given us the formal go-ahead to proceed with our plans to sympathetically restore the Scottish Mutual building into a luxury, boutique hotel which will accommodate the hospitality needs of everyone in the city.
"These plans have been carefully based on our belief that we can add real value and worth by turning this landmark building into a contemporary and stylish venue which will sit comfortably alongside the city's best hotels."
Work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016. Two bars and two restaurants have been earmarked for the ground and first floor areas in the building, which straddles Bedford Street and Donegall Square.
There are also plans for a large 'seated' function room for more than 120 people on the second floor, commanding magnificent views over the City Hall gardens, in addition to a further two smaller function rooms to accommodate smaller functions.
Mr Durkan heralded the development as "welcome news".
"This boutique style accommodation will boost tourism by enhancing the choice for tourists, business travellers and local people," he said. "The work will also bring construction jobs in the short term and full and part time jobs when up and running."
The minister also pointed to how the planning process was concluded within six months.