Green light for first phase of £100m King's Hall healthcare facility plan
The King's Hall looks set to become the site of a £100m healthcare facility after planning officials at Belfast City Council signed off on the first phase of the major plan.
The proposal, set to receive the rubber stamp during Tuesday's planning committee at City Hall, includes the demolition of the conference facility, showgrounds and stables, with the listed King's Hall venue itself transformed into a primary healthcare centre.
Benmore Octopus Healthcare Developments (HK) Ltd is the developer.
The initial plan recommended for approval involves building a two-storey side extension, repositioned access to the Upper Lisburn Road, alterations to the existing access at Balmoral Avenue, internal access roads and public realm works.
Under the proposals, Abbeyfield will operate the care home at the site. It's the first phase of a wider masterplan for the 16-acre site, which includes a proposal for an hotel.
An outline planning application for the wider site has yet to be submitted, nor has the hotel operator been confirmed. However, it has been anticipated that the building will be a six-storey development.
A range of community and leisure facilities, including a gym and a restaurant, also feature in the plan.
Benmore Octopus says the vision for the King's Hall site is for it to become a 'one-stop shop' for health, catering for 500 staff and capable of treating up to 25,000 patients.
Opened in 1934 as a permanent exhibition hall for the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, the King's Hall has hosted hundreds of types of events down the years, from world championship boxing bouts to The Beatles, who performed at the venue in 1964.
The modernist building was among a number of landmark civic structures built in the early days of the newly-formed Northern Ireland.
However, the emergence of the Odyssey Arena and the Waterfront Hall saw a dramatic decline in the number of concerts being held at the venue.
The decision of the RUAS to relocate to a new permanent base at the former Maze site led to the Balmoral facility being sold off.
The new development looks like it will coincide with the start of work on a £40m healthcare centre in nearby Lisburn.
Construction is due to begin next year on the project at Lagan Valley Hospital, bringing together eight GP practices and other services.
Around 250 people are expected to be employed during the construction phase.
The GPG O'Hare consortium which won the contract includes Kajima UK and Newry-based contractor O'Hare & McGovern.