Belfast Telegraph

Council likely to back £100m health facility at King’s Hall

By Ryan McAleer

The first phase of a £100m plan to transform the King's Hall site in Belfast into a new healthcare facility looks set to receive planning approval, one month after councillors deferred their decision in order to visit the site.

The Benmore Octopus bid went before last month's planning committee of Belfast City Council with a recommendation from officials to approve the major project.

The developer's plan involves refurbishing the listed King's Hall and building a two-storey extension on the site.

Non-listed structures earmarked for demolition include a conference facility, showgrounds and stables.

However, councillors moved to delay their decision in order to visit the site last week, on Monday, November 26.

Council documents show that members of the planning committee spent just over one hour at the location with officials.

They will now reconsider three applications linked to the project at a meeting next Tuesday, when it's expected they will sign off on the recommendation from officials to approve the proposals.

Benmore Octopus has said phase one of its plan for the site could create up to 500 jobs, with the new health facility opening by 2021.

The King's Hall has been vacant since the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society relocated to the former Maze prison site in 2013.

Benmore said its plan would "revitalise" the building, providing health centre accommodation for new GP practices, diagnostic services and other primary care professionals.

The expected approval represents stage one of the developer's plan for the site.

Last year an application was approved to develop a portion of the site as an assisted living scheme by Abbeyfield.

A wider masterplan for the 16-acre site is set to be submitted in the coming weeks. It includes proposals for a care home facility, independent living apartments, as well as a hotel and a gym facility

Benmore chief executive David Burrows said: "The building will act as a one-stop shop for up to 30,000 patients, but the ability to deliver this facility alongside other healthcare-related development, including assisted and future living for over-55s, a care home facility, neighbourhood and health-related retail and gym, will in time regenerate the entire site.

"For patients coming to visit their GP, nurse or other health practitioner it will create a bright, positive and healthy environment in keeping with our plans to deliver new, modern healthcare facilities across the wider site."

Belfast Telegraph

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