Belfast Telegraph

Boutique hotel planned for original site of Belfast's premier punk venue


An artist’s impression of how the proposed new hotel could look
An artist’s impression of how the proposed new hotel could look
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The original site of The Harp Bar, once Northern Ireland's premier punk venue, looks set to be turned into a boutique hotel.

The Ducales Group, which owns St Anne's Square in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, has submitted a planning application to redevelop the building into a 17-bedroom hotel with a ground-floor restaurant and bar.

The 10-16 Hill Street site, which was transformed into offices in the early 1990s, was occupied by the Housing Executive until the organisation relocated in March last year.

Its owners now want to restore the building to a hospitality venue.

Between 1978 and 1982, the original Harp Bar was the focal point for Northern Ireland's punk scene and hosted bands including The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi, The Outcasts and many more.

Its contribution to the local music scene is marked by a plaque which also recognises the contribution to punk of Terri Hooley and his Good Vibrations record label.

If the plans are granted permission, the hotel, restaurant and bar will be wedged between The Black Box, The Dirty Onion and the Bunsen Burger restaurant in one of Belfast's most popular nightlife areas.

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In a nod to the building's past, the owners hope to construct a timber facade designed to look like a curtain being raised over a stage.

As part of the application, they also want to build an extension at the back of the building for extra hotel rooms.

The Ducales Group is headed by Thomas Jennings, who previously ran the Valto property firm with his brother, Francis.

The company built The Junction shopping complex in Antrim and was behind the St Anne's Square development in the Cathedral Quarter.

The brothers were once a regular feature on lists of Northern Ireland's wealthiest individuals.

Valto went into administration in 2013, following a £21m loss in 2012 and losses of £36m in the 18 months to March 2011.

St Anne's Square was subsequently acquired by Ducales.

Belfast Telegraph