Belfast Telegraph

KFC tycoon submits restaurant plans for Lesley Court home of French retailer

Plans: Michael Herbert
Plans: Michael Herbert
Emma Deighan

By Emma Deighan

A French cosmetics store in Belfast is set to move to Victoria Square Shopping Centre as the owner of its Lesley Court home seeks planning approval to turn it into a restaurant.

L'Occitane on 24 Ann Street has been trading in the city for 15 years.

But now a planning application submitted by Scotco NI Ltd, which lists KFC tycoon Michael Herbert as one of its directors, has plans to change the use of the ground floor unit to a restaurant.

Belfast Telegraph understands that L'Occitane will relocate to Victoria Square's first floor in a unit close to the Apple Store on October 17.

In the planning application for L'Occitane's present store, Scotco NI Ltd illustrates a proposed 32-seat venue with a customer service counter at the rear of the store.

KFC did not want to comment on the site or the application but earlier this year Mr Herbert told the Belfast Telegraph that he had plans to turn Lesley Court into apartments.

He said he would seek to convert it into an apartment complex, similar to a project he has planned for Fountain Street in the former home of the Spinning Wheel fabric shop. That space is to be converted into six apartments and a retail unit.

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"The plans are geared around bringing inner city living back into Belfast," Mr Herbert said at the time. "Since the Troubles ended people want to live back in the city where there's activity and night life. There is demand for it."

However, it's not clear from the planning application if apartments are planned for the upper floors of Lesley Court.

The growth in city living here is part of Belfast City Council's desire to have 66,000 more people living in the city centre by 2035. It is hoped bringing more people to live in the heart of the city will have a knock-on effect on shops, restaurants and bars.

Mr Herbert has ramped up his housebuilding business in recent months as he launched nearly 70 luxury homes in Belfast in an investment worth a total of £40m.

This includes 35 family homes and 16 large apartments in Stormont and a further eight properties off Malone as well as six detached properties on the Hawthornden Road in Ballyhackamore.

Belfast Telegraph