Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

How Ulster's tallest tower will change our views

Aurora's vision is the dawn of a new city streetscape

How Great Victoria Street looks at the moment
How Great Victoria Street might be with the prospect of a new future

The developer behind Northern Ireland's tallest building wants to play a major role in improving Belfast's streetscape.

Mervyn McAlister of McAlister Holdings, the company behind plans for Aurora, said he is willing to provide significant private funding towards the multi-million pound public sector scheme to improve the public realm.

The company currently has proposals in the planning system for the 109m tall Aurora building which will have 37 floors and cost in the region of £90m.

Designed by internationally- acclaimed HKR Architects, Aurora will be located on Great Victoria Street and will house 291 apartments and penthouses, a residents' spa and gym, residents' car club, exclusive garden, 24-hour concierge, valet parking and 7,000 sq ft of commercial space, including a signature restaurant.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie launched the Belfast Streets Ahead scheme in June and Phase One is currently under way in the Cornmarket and Arthur Street area of the city.

Over the next decade, work will be undertaken throughout the city, including on Great Victoria Street.

Mr McAlister said: "Aurora will be an iconic building for Belfast and will help put Belfast on the international stage.

"It will have an absolutely massive impact for the southern area of the city centre and act as a catalyst for further investment. Improving the arterial routes and public spaces is vital to this regeneration.

"As such, we have been in discussions with the Department of Social Development and the City Council about helping to contribute to the current £16m programme for improving the streetscape and public realm in the city. "

He added: "We are proposing to make a significant contribution towards this multi-million pound scheme once we obtain planning permission for the development.

"We have engaged EDAW, the same firm of architects which has been working with the Government on their scheme. EDAW have helped put together our vision of what we would like Great Victoria Street to look like.

"Our vision includes modern street furniture, new trees planted, high-quality Caithness stone and new lighting columns. It would also be great to see space for public art.

"Belfast City Council wants to see the physical regeneration of key arterial routes leading into the city centre. We are delighted to have very strong cross-party political support for this initiative and we hope DSD will seize the opportunity to move things forward."

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