Belfast Telegraph

Derelict Belfast guest house set for revamp into apartments, shop and cafe

By John Mulgrew

The site of a derelict Belfast guest house is to get a new lease of life, with plans to construct an apartment building complete with a new cafe and shop.

The former Botanic Lodge took just four weeks to sell when it went on the market earlier this year - going for more than £600,000.

Now, Co Tyrone-based Rapsand Ltd has applied for planning permission to build 21 apartments, alongside two retail units, with at least one of those earmarked as a cafe.

The building is based at 87-91 Botanic Avenue. Those behind the scheme have applied for permission to knock down the existing building and construct the new four-storey development.

And the ground floor units are already in high demand, with offers in for both.

Property advisory firm GVA NI is acting on behalf of the owners to bring businesses into the ground-floor section.

Liam McAuley from GVA said the large interest levels were "encouraging".

"It will be very good for that building. There have already been approaches on the ground floor (units)," he said.

He added that a number of businesses had already made initial offers to take on the spaces.

"There are other good ones out there too, who will have an interest. We are targeting a range of businesses and are happy to talk to anyone and everyone.

"It's encouraging from our perspective. It shows there is a bit of life and things are happening out there."

The Botanic Avenue area is close to Queen's University and home to large numbers of students. In recent times its commercial units have become dominated by fast-food restaurants and takeaways.

Ciaran Fox, director of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) said the whole area around Botanic and Queen's University has a lot of development potential.

"The Botanic area and indeed much of the route between Queen's and the city centre is in need of investment and renewal.

"It is welcome to see work started on a number of derelict sites in recent months and to see further plans being brought forward. This part of Belfast has a lot of potential.

"As investment starts to flow, the challenge now is to ensure that the area is developed in a considered way that enhances the existing built environment and allows its own unique character to flourish. That means thought must be given not only to the buildings themselves, but the spaces around them.

"There is room for significant improvement in the pedestrian experience of the Queen's corridor into the city centre."

The former Botanic Lodge took just four weeks to sell after going on the market for £295,000, according to agents Osborne King.

The original asking price for the derelict Botanic Lodge guest house, which will now make way for a four storey building including 21 apartments and two retail units

Belfast Telegraph