Belfast Telegraph

£2m bid to turn small Belfast site into an 11-storey 'eco-flats' complex

By Ryan McAleer

A small plot of land in Belfast city centre could become an 11-storey 'green' apartment block if a £2m project goes ahead.

Yorkshire-based Amstel Developments wants to build 10 apartments in a compact empty space between the Ibis Hotel and College Central apartment complex, close to CastleCourt shopping centre.

The site was placed on the market by CBRE last year with a list price of £125,000. It's understood that Amstel paid close to that sum.

Philip Lee of Arcus Architects, who designed the project, described the proposal as "innovative" and "environmentally responsible". Adapting lessons from projects his firm has completed in Scandinavia, he labelled the narrow high-rise as "a mini version of what can be done".

He suggested that its energy-saving nature could see it even send power back to the grid.

"It's probably going to be the first high-rise green building in Belfast, which means its energy usage is going to be incredibly low. We're trapping energy within the building, we're storing energy within the building, we're not releasing energy into the atmosphere," Mr Lee explained.

Subject to planning approval, the narrow development would create a ground floor lobby/amenity area, with each of the 10 floors above housing a 36 sq m single-bedroom apartment. The bid was lodged with Belfast City Council's planning department earlier this month.

Mr Lee continued: "Belfast's planning office are looking for innovation within the city centre.

"We felt this was a good opportunity to say contextually this is what you can do to increase the vitality of the city. It creates a very minimal footprint on the environment within the city, but also gives people the enjoyment of living in the city centre."

The design concept for the project suggests that the high-rise block could return an energy surplus to the grid through solar panels on the roof.

The document continued that along with 'integrated heat recovery systems and advanced heat pump technologies', this could make it 'one of the most environmentally conscious tall buildings in Belfast'.

Mr Lee said the developer had given Arcus "a free hand" to be creative with the project. "It is quite innovative in terms of what is achievable in Belfast. It is going to break down a number of boundaries."

He believed too many residential developments in Belfast had been "bland" and failed to respond to the city environment.

Adding that the city needed to catch up with its European neighbours, he said: "Belfast needs those little bits that sparkle around the city centre that make people react and start thinking about their city."

Belfast Telegraph

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