Belfast Telegraph

Belfast city transport hub attracts interest of private investors

Council meet with financiers over £175m Belfast plan

By John Mulgrew

Major investors have had discussions with Belfast City Council about funding a £175m public transport project for the city, it can be revealed.

Belfast's new proposed £175m development is set to replace the Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street train station complex, and will be situated on a nearby eight-hectare patch of land.

But speaking about its success during the major MIPIM property investment event in Cannes last month, Belfast City Council said, along with meetings with 20 financial institutions, members met with investors who could consider investing in the ambitious public transport project.

"Of particular note are meetings with potential investors into the new Transport Hub, including those who would have the scale, track record and expertise to consider investment into the adjacent 12-acre regeneration site, Weavers Cross," minutes for the City Growth and Regeneration committee said.

A planning application for the project is due to be submitted this spring.

If granted approval, construction site enabling work is due to start early next year, subject to funding. Actual construction work could start as early as 2019, with those behind the scheme hoping for a 2021 opening.

Speaking about its success at the event, the council said that among its deals, it landed five new hotels in the city, including a George Best-themed development, from Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright's Signature Living. The Belfast Telegraph also revealed that the Crumlin Road Courthouse has finally been sold to the company, and will be turned into a new four-star hotel.

In an update to the committee about MIPIM, the council said: "Council are still progressing conversations with investors and developers first engaged in 2016.

"However, this has now been supplemented by meetings with an additional 20 financial institutions and investors that we engaged last month, along with 350 contacts collated overall.

"The growing ambitions for 2018 underpins the requirement to start planning as soon as possible to ensure we can continue to deliver effectively, going above and beyond to ensure the best profile for our city and business opportunities for our Belfast delegation."

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said: "MIPIM has proved to be an outstanding collaboration between Belfast City Council and the private sector, allowing us to present the city on a global stage to investors and developers.

"Belfast is a hugely compelling proposition for investors and developers, with its highly-talented workforce, infrastructure, lifestyle and other attractions.

"Last year's visit resulted in the announcement by Signature Living of its plans to open five hotels, creating up to 500 new jobs in Belfast.

"We are confident that MIPIM 2017 will also bring positive developments for the city as we move forward with our long-term ambitions for its future, and our wish to improve life for everyone who lives, works or visits Belfast."

According to the committee minutes, a total of 79 people attended MIPIM as part of the Belfast delegation, with 38 sponsors contributing £240,350 of private finance.

In an update to the committee about MIPIM, the council said: "Council are still progressing conversations with investors and developers first engaged in 2016.

Belfast Telegraph