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Maze to be new home for King's Hall exhibition centre

By John Mulgrew

Published 29/06/2015

A designer’s drawing of the new Eikon Exhibition Centre at the former Maze prison site
A designer’s drawing of the new Eikon Exhibition Centre at the former Maze prison site

The King's Hall has unveiled plans for a new exhibition centre located at the former Maze prison site.

The new Eikon Exhibition Centre will be based at the home of the Balmoral Show, after the team behind the King's Hall revealed it was moving its exhibition facilities from its long-running iconic south Belfast home.

It's set to open its doors later this year and will host the Irish Golf Expo on November 28-29 this year.

But the announcement comes after the Belfast Telegraph revealed some of Belfast's biggest and most lucrative trade shows are set to move from their former King's Hall home to a new conference centre in the Titanic Quarter.

It's now racing to secure planning permission for the temporary Titanic Exhibition Centre, before events kick off in September.

The centre is due to be put forward for approval to Belfast City Council's planning committee tonight. And now the King's Hall site in Belfast looks set for a "significant" revamp for the first time in decades as part of new development plans.

A tender proposal was issued to potential investors, inviting bids to rejuvenate and lease the huge 16-acre Lisburn Road plot - which could see the site undergoing significant redevelopment, including the possibility of hotels, office space or a cinema complex.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society - which owns and runs the King's Hall complex - said the multi-million pound investment in its new Eikon centre follows the successful relocation of the Balmoral Show to the site two years ago.

Theresa Morrissey, King's Hall Complex finance and commercial director, said the construction of the Eikon "will establish the venue as the premier exhibition and event centre for Northern Ireland".

"The location is ideal as has been demonstrated by the year-on-year increased visitor numbers to the annual Balmoral Show, which this year was in range of 90,000, with over 88% of visitors travelling in excess of 10 miles.

"The Eikon will be the only exhibition and events venue in Northern Ireland that delivers on all counts.

"Event organisers require a flexible space, therefore the Eikon has been designed for ease of use and includes permanent and innovative service installations to ensure that costs to organisers are known and minimised."

And, addressing potential concerns over access to the site, she added: "Transport initiatives are being progressed which will link public transport directly to the Eikon, an important infrastructure requirement and fantastic support to upcoming events."

The centre also has free on-site car park space for 4,000 vehicles.

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