Belfast Telegraph

Health park ‘will boost Northern Ireland economy by £47m a year’

By Mark Bain

The new King's Hall Health and Wellbeing Park will boost Northern Ireland's economy by £47m a year and support 640 jobs, according to an economic impact assessment.

The £88.5m health hub proposal is set to get the go-ahead from Belfast City Council tomorrow, promising improved access to services for patients,

The proposed development will see the landmark King's Hall building, vacant since 2013, and surrounding site transformed into the most innovative health and wellbeing hub in the UK.

It will include a primary care complex, residential care, independent living accommodation and a 150-room hotel, and will support a further 320 indirect jobs, according to research on behalf of developers Benmore Octopus.

It's estimated that new residents in the proposed independent living units on the site would contribute £260,000 a year to the local economy, while visitor expenditure from overnight stays in the hotel will generate £2.9m.

Meanwhile, the economy will receive a £60m boost in gross value-added terms during the 10-year construction phase, supporting 60 full-time and a further 30 indirect construction jobs.

Total investment in the refurbishment of the existing building and construction of new properties is expected to reach £88.5m.

Turley Economics calculated the benefits to the economy on the basis of information from the planning submission and models of similar schemes.

The redevelopment and refurbishment of the listed King's Hall will also provide a significant heritage gain for south Belfast.

A GP hub is proposed for the King's Hall where the co-location of up to 32 doctors and other health trust-led primary care services can be accommodated.

Detailed analysis also found the site would offer the most accessible location for the total patient population of Finaghy Health Centre and Dunluce Health Centre, both nearby, combined. A total of 76% of the combined patient population lives within 2.5 miles of the King's Hall compared to 67% for Finaghy Health Centre and 63% at Dunluce Health Centre.

David Burrows, a director at Benmore Octopus, said: "The plans set out a vision for the future of healthcare in Northern Ireland which will significantly improve access to GP and specialist services in new modern facilities.

"The site is designed to allow easy access for patients and co-location of specialist medical services, and will alleviate the pressure on existing GP premises and grow the breadth and quality of services GPs can offer.

"Our plan to deliver GP services, combined with on-site diagnostics, caters perfectly for the requirement of innovative healthcare hubs of this nature across the UK.

"The proposals will also provide a modern environment where other medical service providers can co-locate and offer accommodation which allows the elderly to retain as much of their independence as possible in later life."

He added: "We are delighted that our scheme will protect and enhance the iconic King's Hall building and help rejuvenate health care provision in this part of the city. In addition, the latest research shows the King's Hall Health and Wellbeing Park will offer a significant boost to the economy, both in the surrounding area and further afield, by creating jobs and increasing expenditure in the locality."

Belfast Telegraph

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