Belfast Telegraph

Boutique hotel now step closer for Titanic Quarter Belfast: 75 new jobs for '£27 million' project

Exclusive: Luxury development earmarked for the site of old H&W headquarters

By John Mulgrew

This three-storey office block in sandstone and brick was built in stages between c.1900-1919. The building was the administration and drawing office centre for the world famous Harland & Wolff shipyard.

The flagship 84-bedroom four-star 'boutique' development will be based at the old Harland & Wolff headquarters and Drawing Offices.

It's understood the new development could be worth around £27m.

And as many as 250 additional jobs could also be created through the hotel's construction.

It's also understood there are at least three other applications under way for similar developments in the area.

Planning permission had already been approved for a 111-bedroom hotel at the centre of the city's expanding Titanic development.

But a revised application to the Planning Service for a smaller 84-bedroom hotel, along with 'tourist/event facilities' as well as 'ancillary accommodation' was submitted last month.

Titanic Quarter currently has only one hotel - a Premier Inn on the Queens Road.

It's understood Harcourt Developments - which operates the Redcastle and Lough Eske resorts - could be involved in the new project. The Irish firm - run by Donegal man Pat Doherty - is the parent company of Titanic Quarter Ltd.

The new hotel's name and operator have yet to be confirmed.

Kerrie Sweeney, chief executive of Titanic Foundation Ltd - which submitted the application - told the Belfast Telegraph the project would generate "250 jobs during construction and 75 jobs once opened".

"The former Harland & Wolff headquarters building, including the Drawing Offices, are among Northern Ireland's most important industrial heritage assets," she said.

"The planning application is part of a wider process, with Titanic Quarter and the Heritage Lottery Fund to safeguard the buildings and give them a new lease of life," she added.

"The current planning submission is similar to one previously approved, but will further enhance access for the public and heritage preservation."

The group is also trying to secure £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, towards the new development.

It's understood a decision is due in January 2015.

"The building is testimony to 100 years of shipbuilding and the 1,000 ships which Harland & Wolff designed in the original Drawing Offices," Kerrie Sweeney said.

"Telling this story is a major element of the project and will be reflected in the name and design of the hotel."

And although a name has not yet been decided, Titanic Quarter chief executive David Gavaghan told the Belfast Telegraph last month the new hotel would have 'Titanic' in its title.

Given the shortage of rooms in the Titanic Quarter, the new development will be a welcome addition to the burgeoning area.

A spokesperson for Titanic Quarter said the new "luxury, boutique hotel will be a major boost for Titanic Quarter and Belfast."

"Titanic Belfast has already proved to be a major draw for overseas visitors and the prospect of being able to offer a unique leisure facility steeped in the city's maritime and Titanic heritage can only enhance Belfast's reputation."

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