Belfast Telegraph

Rebuilt Bank Buildings to include cafe, Primark's plans reveal

The Bank Buildings fire cordon outside Zara
The Bank Buildings fire cordon outside Zara
Proposals: Paul Marchant

By Lisa Smyth

Discount retailer Primark has submitted a planning application to begin restoration work on the firm's damaged anchor store in Belfast city centre.

As the first anniversary of the devastating blaze at Bank Buildings approaches, it has filed its plans to carry out "conservation-led redevelopment and restoration" of the site.

The proposals include reinstating the upper floor structures from Bank Street, Royal Avenue and Castle Street facades, and reinstatement of the 1970s wall on Bank Street.

The company, which is led by chief executive Paul Marchant, is also asking for permission to add a cafe. It is hoped the proposed works will restore the gutted building to its former glory and result in a considerably larger store than the one currently open in Castle Street.

Bank Buildings were completely devastated by a fire that broke out at the premises on August 28 last year. In June, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service revealed its investigation into the blaze had found it started accidentally.

The fire had a catastrophic effect on the city centre, with retailers such as City Picnic and Aldo both casualties of the extensive cordon that was put in place to ensure public safety.

The cordon created a major headache for traders, with firms like Argento relocating for a period of time.

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Businessman Peter Boyle, who owns the jewellery chain, said after the blaze: "We can't afford to lose our customers. We can't afford not to trade."

A consultation period to allow interested parties to make representations on the plans will remain open until September 11.

Belfast Telegraph

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