Belfast Telegraph

Developer faces further delay on new Belfast office plan

By John Mulgrew

A property developer is facing another hold-up over plans to demolish a 19th century Belfast building to make way for a new nine-storey office block.

Killultagh Estates, run by Frank Boyd, wants to knock down the existing Clarence Gallery at Linenhall Street.

A number of objections were raised over the scheme.

That led to the firm submitting a scaled-back version in new plans - but it still wants to knock down the building.

Now two Stormont departments have raised issues with elements of the scheme.

A letter from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said that "potential unacceptable risks to the water environment have been identified".

DAERA also wants additional information to "advise the planning authority as to the environmental risks from this proposed development".

The Department for Infrastructure said it "considers this application unacceptable in its present form" for a number of reasons, including a lack of details in the drawings and plans.

And the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) criticised it as "detrimental to the historic character and appearance" of the city's so-called Linen conservation area.

Earlier this year the project was criticised by the Historic Environment Division, which is part of the Department for Communities.

One document said that "Historic Buildings considers the proposal would, if permitted, have an adverse impact on the setting of the named listed buildings", and contended that it failed to meet specific areas relating to planning.

The report added: "Historic Environment Division Historic Monuments has considered the impacts of the proposal and is content, conditional on the agreement and implementation of a developer-funded programme of archaeological works."

RPP Architects occupied Clarence Gallery from 1987 until relocating in 2006.

Blue Hairdressing occupied 13 Clarence Street since at least 2006 until May 2017.

Reuben's sandwich bar has traded from 26a Linenhall Street since 1996.

A design statement from Turley, on behalf of Killultagh, has said it believes demolishing the building is "appropriate" and meets planning and conservation regulations.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in September, Nikki McVeigh, chief executive of the UAHS, said: "In 2015 UAHS objected to this application based on the demolition of the existing 'Clarence Gallery' and damage this implied to the Linen conservation area.

"Demolition of the building remains integral to the updated application. Therefore UAHS's objection dated 2015 still stands.

"UAHS furthermore concurs with the Historic Environment Division's assessment of impact of these proposals on nearby listed buildings, pholding our recommendation that this application should be refused."

Elsewhere, Mr Boyd's firm has been given approval to knock down the General Accident Building at Donegall Square South and replace it with a nine-storey office block. It is currently home to the Chamber of Commerce.

The company bought the General Accident Building, which was on the market for £3.5m.

The proposed new development would include two levels of underground parking, and office space.

Belfast Telegraph

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