Look inside: Belfast Ormeau Road restaurant and hotel planned for church site
The site of a former Catholic Church on Belfast's Ormeau Road could soon reopen as a boutique hotel after Belfast City Council officials recommended approving the plan of its new owners.
Hospitality group The Galgorm Collection is behind the bid. The company, which takes its name from its well-known Ballymena resort, plans to turn the old Holy Rosary Church into one of its Fratelli restaurants and develop the former parochial house next door into a 21-bedroom hotel.
The recommendation from the planning department is subject to ratification at Tuesday's meeting of Belfast City Council's planning committee.
It comes just two weeks after the Galgorm Collection announced the purchase of the Templeton Hotel in Templepatrick for £7m.
It followed a £1.5m investment in the group's Belfast-based restaurants Fratelli and Café Parisien and the £600,000 purchase and refurbishment of the Castle Kitchen and Bar at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in 2018.
The hospitality group said its investment in the vacant listed church and parochial house represents a positive contribution to the upper Ormeau Road area through the "sympathetic reuse" of the former place of worship.
Its plan involves demolishing a two-storey section at the back of the old parochial house and replacing it with a new three-storey extension.
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Work on the church will demolish the existing vestry entrance porch, external steps and single-storey boiler house. An internal spiral staircase will also be relocated.
The application attracted dozens of objections, largely centred on concerns around traffic and parking in the busy thoroughfare.
But city council planning officials said that after considering all the issues, the development should go ahead. Their report will go before the council's planning committee on Tuesday.
The new hotel and restaurant represents the continuing theme of development along the upper Ormeau Road. Planning officials have already signalled approval for the demolition of the nearby former Ballynafeigh PSNI station to make way for a modern apartment complex.
Co Tyrone developer Knockburn Ltd's £12m development will include 57 apartments on the site. It also includes three ground-floor units - set up for a cafe, restaurant or a retail unit - a communal courtyard and 75 basement parking spaces.
Meanwhile, a separate plan to transform the former First Trust Bank on the upper Ormeau Road into a retail and residential development is also in the works.
PWD Developments submitted an application in August 2018 to demolish the old bank and build a development with eight apartments and two ground floor retail units.