Belfast Telegraph

Work under way on hotel at former Harland & Wolff HQ

By John Mulgrew

Work has finally begun on a long-awaited hotel at the former Harland & Wolff drawing offices in the Titanic Quarter.

The team behind the hotel, which will bring 100 new jobs to the city, say it will be open in 2017.

Last year, the project was awarded a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 84-bedroom hotel, which was first announced in 2014, will include attached areas for tourism, focused on developing the offices as spaces for public use.

It's thought as many as 250 construction jobs could be created while the building is being developed.

Last month, new plans for the hotel were submitted, this time to up the number of bedrooms to 120.

While planning has been granted for the main development, another application for a new extension is still going through the system.

Kerrie Sweeney, chief executive of Titanic Foundation, said: "Thanks to the support from Heritage Lottery Fund and the partnership between ourselves and Titanic Quarter Ltd, we have the opportunity to bring the drawing offices back to their former glory.

"This will give the public the opportunity to experience over a century of innovation and exceptional craftsmanship and allow the redevelopment of the rest of the building into a unique hotel."

The drawing offices have been left empty for decades, only being used for a number of small events over the years.

Those included the ABV 15 beer festival, which saw around 1,500 people fill the main drawing rooms back in May.

The Harland & Wolff headquarters once held 500 workers, and was built in three stages between 1889 and 1922.

James Eyre, Titanic Quarter's commercial director, said: "It's been a long-term ambition of Titanic Quarter to fully restore Harland & Wolff's former headquarters and create a sustainable use for the building that will safeguard it for future generations."

And Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said it is "exciting to see that one of Belfast's most iconic buildings where men created, designed and built thousands of ships including the Titanic, will be rejuvenated and returned to its former glory".

Meanwhile, Belfast Harbour's new City Quays hotel project is also expected to get the go-ahead next week.

Planners have said that the 188-bedroom development, which will sit alongside the City Quays 1 and 2 buildings, will "positively contribute to the ongoing regeneration" of the area.

And an extension to Jury's Hotel in Belfast city centre is also due to get approval during next week's planning committee meeting.

The rear extension would significantly grow the popular city centre spot, adding offices and car parking.

An application for the changes was submitted by M&R Estates Limited, which is linked to Co Tyrone construction firm McAleer and Rushe.

They are just a few of a total of 20 new hotels planned for the city.

Belfast Telegraph

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