Belfast Telegraph

Shops and restaurants planned for site of Belfast bank

By Rachel Martin

A former city centre bank could be turned into a high-end restaurant and retail complex if a planning application to transform it gets the go-ahead, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Permission is being sought to convert the ground floor of the high-rise Lesley Buildings into two large units for restaurants, along with space for shops.

Co Tyrone property company Gortalowry Developments is behind the proposal, alongside RPP Architects - the same firm behind designs for the third phase of Belfast Harbour's City Quays project.

It's understood interest has already been shown in the restaurant units from potential occupants. Gortalowry also plans to carry out a full refurbishment of Lesley Buildings' 13,000sq ft of vacant office space, as well as making changes to the building's lobby.

The ground floor of Lesley Buildings had been home to doomed bank Northern Rock.

The site - on the corner of Wellington Place and Fountain Street - later became home to a branch of building society Santander.

The units' proximity to Belfast City Hall is being used as a major selling point.

Mark Thallon of letting agents TDK Property said: "The application is for the conversion of the ground floor space creating bigger units which will permit restaurant operators to take advantage of the views over the City Hall.

"The food and beverage sector in Belfast is booming at present with more national operators looking for space.

"Gortalowry have acted quickly following their recent acquisition of the building to submit a planning permission to take advantage of this market and we have had several positive conversations with potential occupiers looking to satisfy outstanding requirements for Belfast."

Recent newcomers to the city's dining scene include pizza chain Zizzi, which has opened up in Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

And coffee shop chain Patisserie Valerie is set to open its second outlet in Castle Lane.

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