Belfast Telegraph

Hotels and cinema complex plan for Belfast's King's Hall

Exclusive: Development brief seen by the Belfast Telegraph invites bids to rejuvenate and lease site

By John Mulgrew

The King's Hall site in Belfast could be set for a "significant" revamp for the first time in decades as part of new development plans, it can be revealed.

A tender proposal seen by the Belfast Telegraph has been issued to potential investors, inviting bids to rejuvenate and lease the huge 16-acre Lisburn Road plot.

It could mean the site undergoes significant redevelopment - including the possibility of hotels, office space or a cinema complex.

The iconic main listed building will remain under any plans, the report has said.

Its owners - the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) - have produced a five-page tender with commercial property firm Colliers International, and are seeking a long-term lease on the south Belfast site.

The report says the "client is seeking to secure a long-term income stream from the site and financial proposals should be on the basis of a ground rent proposal".

The building and grounds - which have played host to some of Northern Ireland's most memorable events over the past 80 years - could be given a new lease of life under the new proposals.

The King's Hall once played host to the Balmoral Show - but the huge agricultural event has now been moved to the former Maze prison site near Lisburn.

It seems the owners want to move quickly - with the deadline for initial submissions just six weeks away.

Ian Duddy, a director of Colliers International - who's behind the development brief - told the Belfast Telegraph it was "throwing it open" to any number of big ideas.

But he would not be drawn on how many millions of pounds any project could generate.

"It's throwing it out there to see what response we get. We expect interest from local, the Great Britain market and beyond," he said.

"We've seen interest from further afield.

"It could be healthcare, hotel, office or business space - there's good accessibility in that area."

It's decades since the site has undergone any major development, and those behind the new plans are placing "no barriers" on potential bidders.

It could be looking for a lease agreement on the land of anywhere up to 125 years.

"I think anything will have to be done in sympathy with the listed status of the King's Hall building," Mr Duddy said.

Another property expert said the plan and proposals could take as little as three to six months to get off the ground.

Commercial property consultants CBRE director David Wright said there was "the potential for the owners to generate a good long-term income".

"I would say the interest would be very good, and it's likely to come from the larger scale developers, given the size of the site," he said.

"It could be large property developers based in the UK, and not those from Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph