Belfast Telegraph

Green light for 304-bedroom Grand Central - Northern Ireland's biggest hotel

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's largest hotel development is due to get the green light next week. Hastings Group is turning the former Windsor House building on Bedford Street in Belfast into a 304-bedroom hotel, called the Grand Central.

Work has already started on the building which was initially given planning permission for a 200-bedroom scheme.

The £30m four-star complex will transform the 23-storey Windsor House into the single biggest investment by family-run Hastings Hotels.

Now, Belfast City Council planners have recommended that the latest plan for the larger hotel gets the go-ahead.

Planners considered a number of issues, including the loss of existing offices, the ground floor retail unit, any impact upon the "character and appearance of Linen Conservation Area and the setting of adjacent listed buildings", as well as the "impact on existing roads infrastructure".

A total of six objections were received. Planners said that each raised "similar issues in regards to the finishes".

"They consider the finishes to be out of character with the area. The materials are inappropriate, the poor design and lack of windows creates an overbearing structure which will have a detrimental impact on a Conservation Area", it said.

But planners said, while "visually different from the previously approved application, it is considered to be a marked improvement on the original building". The initial grand design was first revealed in 2015. New plans say the larger hotel's design is "more restrained" and has a "contemporary facade".

It's due to go before the planning committee next week.

In Belfast, more than two dozen hotels are at various stages of planning and development.

Among the 3,747 rooms, around 500 are part of the Titanic Quarter master plan.

There are also proposals for five by Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright, including a George Best-themed hotel.

Around 1,100 rooms are being added across five schemes currently under-construction. They are the Marriott AC at City Quays; the Grand Central at Bedford Street; Hampton by Hilton at Hope Street; the Maldron Hotel at Brunswick Street and the Titanic Hotel. Ten Square, behind the City Hall, is also being extended.

Belfast Telegraph

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