Belfast Telegraph

12 Ulster Bank buildings for sale with £1.2million total price tag

By Emma Deighan

Former Ulster Bank branches in Northern Ireland that include three listed properties have gone on the market, prompting calls for their character and style to be maintained.

The buildings, three of which are Grade B listed - two B1 buildings in Dromore and Castlederg and one grade B2 in Ballyclare - are in towns including Moira, Rathfriland, Ballyclare, Dungiven, Portrush and Dromore.

The 12 branches have combined asking prices of £1.2m. Their closures were announced last year.

The sale of the buildings comes as uncertainty surrounds the future of grade B1 listed Bank Buildings, the home of Primark in Belfast city centre, after it was almost destroyed by a fire three weeks ago.

While some traders affected by the fire have called for demolition, there have also been calls for the surviving facade to be retained and the structure rebuilt.

An expert in historic buildings said potential buyers should adapt the branches in a way that will generate footfall.

Professor Alastair Adair, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Ulster University, and former head of the school for the built environment, cited a former bank in Newtownards which was turned into a pizza restaurant.

He said: "Buildings like that lend a sense of character and tend to be substantial buildings built to reflect the status and stature of the banks, and it's now about how they can be accommodated for future use that's important.

"Given they're in high street locations, it's important they're remodelled to encourage footfall in the area, such as was the case of Newtownards where pizzeria Little Wing went into a former Bank of Ireland building.

"That seems to be an appropriate use. That footfall supports other businesses in the town centre."

John Anderson, vice chairman of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, said: "Ulster Architectural Heritage would like to see imaginative and sympathetic new owners who will achieve sustainable and profitable uses to retain the character and quality of the architecture within the communities they served.

"Too often in the past property speculators have 'land banked' such buildings, which were then allowed to fall into dereliction in the hope of achieving a 'new build' site."

Liam McAuley, associate director at GVA NI Ltd, which is selling the bank branches, said that he was "pleased with the level of interest".

Belfast Telegraph

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