Two major new Belfast office developments worth a combined £70million have been given the green light by Belfast City Council's Planning Committee.
Members approved proposals for the £50m first phase of the landmark Belfast Waterside development and the £20m 11-storey Graham House development on Albert Square in the city centre.
The council said that the Belfast Waterside 28,476 square metre Grade A office scheme will bring an initial £50m investment and deliver the first major employment activity at the former Howden Sirocco site in almost 20 years, accommodating up to 2,500 employees. A 13-storey office accommodation building near the Short Strand, including a retail unit on the ground floor alongside cafe and restaurant units, will be the first step in creating modern workspace for 11.5% of the 46,000 new jobs that the City Council is seeking to create by 2035 as part of the Belfast Agenda.
The plan also includes landscaping and public realm works, a pocket park and pedestrian and cycle access.
The plans were submitted by Vanguard Real Estate, the development arm of Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd, a joint venture between the Corbally Group, Graftongate and Gulf Resources Development and Investment (GRDI).
Danish architectural firm, Henning Larsen, has designed the project.
Councillor Matt Garrett, who is chairman of City Hall's Planning Committee, said: "The Belfast Waterside development will benefit both office workers and city residents - and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the wider Sirocco site.
"The approach to the building's design and landscaping has taken its cues from the Giant's Causeway, and it's exactly the type of high-quality environment that we're encouraging local and global investors to develop in Belfast, as we work to deliver our Belfast Agenda commitments, and to secure a Belfast Region City Deal with Westminster."
Stuart Draffin, head of agency at Lambert Smith Hampton property consultancy in Belfast, said last night's planning permission "is great news for Belfast and Northern Ireland".
"We are excited about the redevelopment of such an iconic city-centre site capable of accommodating up to 850,000 sq ft of office accommodation and 750 homes," he said.
"The Vanguard team have a proven global track record in delivering challenging, large-scale tailored property solutions on time and within budget for a wide range of occupiers.
"We are delighted to be working with the Vanguard team to secure occupiers for Belfast Waterside."
Paris-based developer, Stargime, also received the Planning Committee's approval to build a £20m 11-storey office building, Graham House, with a ground-floor restaurant/cafe on Albert Square, with access from Tomb Street.