Plan to turn former Belfast Ulster Bank into restaurants
A former bank building in Belfast could be turned into two new hot food retail outlets.
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The Ulster Bank branch, on the Boucher Road, which closed in May 2018, has remained largely vacant in the months since.
Now owned by Lowry Building and Civil Engineering, the Castlederg company has been using part of the old bank as a satellite office since December.
Ian Lowry from the Co Tyrone construction firm has submitted a planning application to Belfast City Council, seeking to split the building into two eateries with takeaway facilities on the busy retail thoroughfare.
Mr Lowry is a board member of the Federation of Master Builders in Northern Ireland.
His proposal includes adding a glass extension to the building.
The Omagh-based architectural team behind the redesign has described the location as one of the significant retail areas in Belfast outside of the city centre.
A supporting statement from Arch-Aid Design states: "Currently there is only one hot food retail outlet on the Boucher Road, sited midway along it, serving this significant retail area."
The design team said the main challenge of the project is creating a building which can give an identity to each unit while still creating a building which has a cohesive design ethos.
"It was extremely important that the external facade associated with the building's previous banking identity was completely redesigned and modernised."
As a result, the new design seeks to remove the arched windows and proposes installing modern architectural cladding panels over the existing brickwork facade.
The plan also includes the installation of a glazed box extension with another solid section juxtaposed to the glazed cuboid.
If approved, the development would be the latest project to inject fresh life into the Boucher Road.
Last year, Charles Hurst opened a new £8m Jaguar Land Rover base next to the old bank.
The 40,000 sq ft car showroom has created 20 jobs on the site of the former Diageo headquarters.
The former B&Q retail warehouse on Boucher Road is also undergoing a major overhaul.
Fast growing UK discount retailer The Range has confirmed it will open a new 65,000 sq ft superstore and garden centre on the site in April.
Around 70 jobs are expected to be created.
Meanwhile, the seven-acre former Balmoral Fruit Market, which went on the market in November with an asking price of £8.5m, is attracting strong interest.
The large car park has been described as a prime development site on the Boucher Road.