Utilities hold-up for project featuring restaurant, bar and boules court
An outdoor boardwalk with a bar and restaurant, entertainment area and boules court in Brunswick Street in Belfast has been delayed until Christmas, it has emerged.
The £0.3m project, led by Linen Quarter Business Improvement District (Bid), is in the process of securing utilities connections.
The Bid is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at regenerating the area traditionally associated with linen-making in Belfast.
It has obtained planning permission to transform the Brunswick Street area between Great Victoria Street and Bedford Street into a social hub with a bar, outdoor seats and a stage for entertainment.
A gravel court for French boules is to be added to Blackstaff Square.
Chris McCracken, head of the Linen Quarter Bid, said an experienced Northern Ireland operator has now been appointed to run the bar, which will be within a shipping container.
He said the Bid has also been dealing with NI Water and NIE Networks to secure water and electricity connections.
That process was taking some months though both entities were now committed to providing the connections, he said.
“We are still waiting waiting to get a programme plan as we’ve had to seek a large number of approvals with statutory agencies and utilities.
“We secured planning permission at the end of April and we have our Street Works licence to do work and take over the space, with road closure permission now in place.
“But with utility connections, you must first get their permission, then they send a quote, they have to do the work, which can take months.
“It will be a 12 week build and can’t start that until connections are ready so I anticipate will be open before Christmas.”
The project is backed by £0.3m from public and private sources, he said, including a five-figure sum from the bar operator, who is also to pay rent for the space.
The public funding includes support from Belfast City Council and the Communities and Infrastructure departments.
The arts and musical community will also be commissioned to feature in the entertainment space.
Mr McCracken added: “The bar, which will sit in a lovely shipping container with a metal canopy, and there will also be retractable canopies for the rest of the space.
“There will be seating outside and a cafe on the decking, a games area and an entertainment space.”
He admitted the weather could prove a difficulty.
“Mizzle can often be a problem so that’s why we will have the retractable canopies.”
The bar would cater for 150 people, and the entertainment space would feature music tying in with events such as the Belfast City Blues Festival.
And he said the project would also add a gravel court for French boules at Blackstaff Square. "It will probably also be Christmas before we add that.
"We were hoping we would have all these things in before the end of the summer but working through all of these approvals just takes time.”
The Bid is spending £0.5m in total on regeneration through outdoor spaces although the Brunswick Street plan is its biggest project.
It has also launched a parklet at the corner of Clarence Street and Linenhall Street.