£400m Belfast redevelopment plan 'ignores city's heritage'
A £400m Belfast redevelopment scheme will "do nothing to make the city's regeneration relevant to people", a leading charity has said.
The Belfast Buildings Trust said the flagship project in the Cathedral Quarter should be rejected by planners.
The largest ever single redevelopment in the city centre could include a 27-storey building as part of the ambitious scheme.
Developer Castlebrooke has now submitted outline plans for the project, which include the redevelopment of a 12-acre site based around Royal Avenue, North Street and Donegall Street, including around St Anne's Cathedral.
But the trust - which has worked on more than 200 heritage-led regeneration projects across Northern Ireland - said the proposals fundamentally undermine Belfast's sense of place. "They are a lost opportunity for the city's existing built heritage to be reused in authentic and relevant ways," it said.
"They will dilute Belfast's distinctiveness and do nothing to make the city's regeneration relevant to people."
The charity said it recognised the need for substantial regeneration in the Cathedral Quarter.
"Unfortunately, the proposals tabled in recent months and updated before Christmas are entirely unsympathetic to the area's heritage and character," it added.
The criticism of the plans comes after the Church of Ireland voiced its own opposition. The Bishop of Connor, the Rev Alan F Abernethy, said the Church was "concerned at the lack of attention that has been paid to preserving or enhancing the character of the area, included in the application".
Castlebrooke had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to press.