Financial services hub gets planning go-ahead
Planning approval has been granted for a multi-million pound development intended to house major financial institutions and create hundreds of jobs in Belfast.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots has visited the site of Northern Ireland's first Financial Services Centre, which is the latest high- profile development in the Titanic Quarter, alongside Audi and Citi.
The project is based on the success of the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin.
Mr Poots said companies eventually occupying the building would represent significant inward investment to the Northern Ireland economy.
"This investment will promote further international confidence in Northern Ireland, both in our ability to deliver high-quality business facilities and to provide a highly qualified and skilled workforce," he said.
"The investment package will secure some 300 jobs in the construction of these facilities and has a potential to secure around 2,000 permanent jobs in the financial sector."
Mike Smith, chief executive of Titanic Quarter Ltd, added that despite the turmoil created by the credit crunch, the financial services sector remains a key inward investment target for the Titanic Quarter.
"As the recent jobs announcement by Citi demonstrated, there is still significant potential for Northern Ireland to attract high-value and high-profile projects," he said.
"This new development, representing phase II of Northern Ireland's first Financial Services Centre, will complement Belfast city centre and offer potential investors a unique mix of bespoke facilities, hi-tech communications and a distinctive financial 'campus style' atmosphere."
The planning proposal includes 14 floors of office space and ground floor shops, cafes and restaurants.
Planning consultancy Turley Associates, which advised on the project, welcomed the planning go-ahead.
Diana Fitzsimons, director at Turley Associates, said that the project will have widespread benefits. "The spin-off benefits for the rest of the urban area will bring wider prosperity, counterbalancing the decline of other sectors of our economy."