Belfast Telegraph

Design firm appointed to oversee plans for Sirocco site

By John Mulgrew

A team of top designers and planners has been appointed by Belfast City Council to draw up a masterplan for the Sirocco site.

Arup, which has a team in the city, will oversee the planning and design of the derelict 16-acre site in east Belfast.

It is understood that the St Francis Group, which is based in England, will take on the area with two other investors and will complete a deal within the next few weeks.

Speaking about the entire "East Bank" area, the council said work had begun with the "appointment of Arup and creation of a project steering group".

"It is considered that the East Bank Framework will provide greater certainty to emerging development in this part of the city and support council and Transport NI requirements as this site is taken forward," a council spokesman added.

"Land owners in the East Bank area, including the owner of Sirocco, will be engaged directly during development of the framework."

Earlier this year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed a previous deal to take it on had fallen through after part of the Sirocco site was slapped with a Government conservation order. The potential buyer was also worried about the impact of Brexit.

The vision for the development previously included a financial services hub and a media hub, with speculation growing that the BBC may be interested in moving to the area.

Speaking about the nearby Queen's Quay site - part of the East Bank area - the council's city growth and regeneration committee said that the Department for Communities had a "high-level masterplan for this area, which they will seek to pursue in due course".

It added: "As with the other development opportunities in this area, it is considered that the East Bank Framework will assist in bringing forward appropriate development in a comprehensive way, as well as considering the cumulative impact of all planned development schemes on the existing infrastructure."

The Sirocco site was formerly in the hands of US vulture fund Cerberus.

Belfast Telegraph