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New office block plan 'latest symbol of Belfast regeneration'

By John Mulgrew

Belfast is in line for a new 10-storey building that could accommodate more than 700 workers. Plans have been submitted for a 116,000sq ft grade A office block on the site of the General Accident building at Donegall Square South, behind Belfast City Hall.

The building, on the market for £3.5m, was bought by Killultagh Estates.

The planned glass-clad development includes a retail scheme on the ground floor and two levels of car parking.

A design statement by Todd Architects, on behalf of the developer, said: "There is presently a severe lack of grade A office accommodation in Belfast city centre.

"There has been an identified need from foreign direct investors, local organisations and multi-national companies."

It added that the building will include "the larger floorplates tenants are seeking".

"In an open plan workplace environment, when fully occupied, the building could accommodate some 700+ employees," it said.

"In addition to providing this level of new employment, further significant added economic benefit will be brought to surrounding cafes, restaurants and retailing offers."

It will feature nine storeys, as well as a top penthouse storey that is set back from the other floors.

The building could also "accommodate a large retailer", according to the plans.

"The completion of this development will provide the city centre with an important new urban infill project that will become another symbol of its continuing urban regeneration," the developers added.

The project will join a number of major office schemes across the city. The £400m Royal Exchange project - a revamp of Belfast city centre that could break ground this summer - will include a "tall building" featuring a mixture of apartments and retail.

The Royal Exchange development is a 12-acre site in the Royal Avenue area.

Fresh plans from new owners Castlebrooke Investments show a move away from a retail-led scheme to include offices as well as accommodation as part of a so-called mixed use development.

Developers are eyeing up two possible sites for the tall building, which could be a dozen storeys and upwards in size.

Plans are also under way to knock down the Movie House cinema on Dublin Road and build a 12-storey office scheme with a capacity for 3,000 staff.

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