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More than 20 developments for Belfast in 10-year high for builds


Simon Bedford, partner in the Deloitte Real Estate, and Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast City Council

Simon Bedford, partner in the Deloitte Real Estate, and Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast City Council

@Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Simon Bedford, partner in the Deloitte Real Estate, and Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast City Council

Construction activity in Belfast's city centre is at a 10-year high thanks to a series of new hotel developments, according to a report today.

The Belfast Crane Survey from business advisors Deloitte said there were now 25 schemes being built, up from 19 a year ago.

And hotels account for a large part of the work, with projects from Hastings Hotels' new Grand Central, to the nearby Maldron Hotel by Dalata plc to add 1,000 new rooms to the city by the end of 2018.

All but three of the 25 schemes are due to finish this year, with a new harbour hotel opening in April, followed by the Grand Central in June.

As well as eight new hotels, the 25 schemes also include seven offices, four student residences for up to 2,000 students, three other forms of residential developments and two new educational sites.

However, this month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the city centre's new Ulster University campus may be delayed until 2021.

Simon Bedford, partner in the Deloitte Real Estate practice, said: "Belfast has been enjoying a surge in tourism in recent years and reflective of this, hotel developments continued to be central to Belfast's story in 2017.

"There are over 1,000 new hotel rooms currently being built and all are due to complete in 2018. The new hotel openings will create an exciting period for the city and substantial employment opportunities."

And the report predicts that future work will include the revamp of 'heritage' sites, citing the example of the redevelopment of the Ormeau Baths into an entrepreneurial hub, and work on the Weaving Works.

"These schemes are indicative of a trend which will see other heritage sites repurposed," it said.

Last year, work started on nearly 195,000 sq ft of new office space over four developments.

Deloitte said that brought the total office space under construction to 453,385 sq ft, almost half of which involves the redevelopment of existing office space.

Suzanne Wylie, chief executive of Belfast City Council, said: "The Deloitte Crane Survey 2018 shows that investors continue to see great opportunity in Belfast, which is evident by the number of cranes dominating the skyline.

"Tourism growth is driving new hotel building and there is still demand for grade A office space from local and international companies. It is encouraging that the crane survey shows there are signs of growth in city centre residential development, which Belfast City Council has identified as a key future driver of the city's economy.

"In The Belfast Agenda, the city has set out ambitious targets, including attracting thousands more people to live in the city and creating thousands of new jobs by 2035. With plans emerging for new accommodation and improvements to infrastructure, those goals remain achievable."

Mr Bedford said the crane survey captured a change in the pattern of development in the city.

"With a growing student population and inward investment in professional sectors continuing, it is anticipated that city living will increase in popularity among students and young people beginning their professional lives in Belfast," Mr Bedford said.

And he predicted that a proliferation of finished products in 2018 would have a positive impact on the city.

Belfast Telegraph