Belfast Telegraph

No tenants at Belfast city tech park despite £7m spend

By John Mulgrew

More than £7m has already been spent on developing a Belfast business park - including £50,000 on marketing - which has yet to secure any tenants two years after it was first unveiled.

Giant's Park is an ambitious project to turn a once wasteland 340-acre site in north Belfast into a technology hub which, it hopes, could create up to 400 jobs.

But two years on from its launch and, with around £50,000 spent on marketing, the site has yet to secure any business.

Belfast City Council said it has received 44 expressions of interest, but no confirmed company has signed up. It's a part-Government funded scheme, which has received cash from Belfast City Council, Invest NI and the EU, and is pitching at those working in the renewables, recycling and other so-called 'clean-tech' sectors.

So far, more than £7m has been spent on infrastructure.

A council spokesman said: "Giant's Park is the largest regeneration project in Belfast.

"To date, a total of £7.4m has been spent on the Environmental Resource park infrastructure, with £1.6m coming from Invest Northern Ireland and £2.2m from the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and £3.6m from Belfast City Council.

"Around £50,000 has been spent on a highly successful marketing and advertising campaign which has resulted in 44 expressions of interest."

Esmond Birnie, an economist with Ulster University, said: "There probably is a case here of 'build it and they may take a while to come'.

"Being ready for unpredictable inward investment (for example, as the Giant's Park is aiming to do for technology and film production) may always require holding a buffer of empty land.

"To put Giant's Park into context, the other councils, the enterprise agencies, Catalyst Inc and Invest NI all have vacant land holdings in terms of industrial estates, science parks and incubator units.

"There is an overall strategic Northern Ireland question - do we make enough sites available speedily, for example, zoned through the planning system?"

In April, the park held a promotional day at the site, stating that it is "officially opening for business".

It's two years since it was first unveiled, by former Economy Minister Jonathan Bell.

That was followed by a media day to tour the under-construction site in early December.

At that time, commercial property agents Lisney were actively attracting "developers, occupiers and investors" to take on plots ranging from 0.5 to 30 acres.

Part of the overall Giant's Park site includes Belfast newest film studios.

The separate £20m project, which will include over 120,000 sq ft of studios, workshops and offices, is being developed by Belfast Harbour.

The success of Northern Ireland film productions such as HBO's Game of Thrones has meant that demand for studio space is now outstripping supply.

Belfast Telegraph