Belfast Telegraph

Revised plan for Belfast offices on site of historic building fails to placate objectors

By John Mulgrew

A Northern Ireland property developer is facing a continued backlash over plans to demolish a 19th century Belfast building to make way for a nine-storey office.

Frank Boyd's firm Killultagh Estates wants to knock down the existing building at Linenhall Street, which is known as Clarence Gallery.

But objections were raised over the scheme, with the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) blasting it as "detrimental to the historic character and appearance" of the city's so-called 'Linen conservation area'.

It also faced criticism from the Historic Environment Division, which is part of the Department for Communities.

The firm has now submitted a scaled-back version in new plans. However, it still wants to recommend the demolition of the building.

But both heritage organisations are not supporting the office block development.

In a new document, commenting about the new plan, the "Historic Buildings considers the proposal would, if permitted, have an adverse impact on the setting of the named listed buildings" and contends it fails to meet specific areas, relating to planning.

The report adds: "Historic Environment Division Historic Monuments has considered the impacts of the proposal and is content, conditional on the agreement and implementation of a developer-funded programme of archaeological works."

Nikki McVeigh, chief executive of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, told the Belfast Telegraph: "In 2015, UAHS objected to this application, based on the demolition of the existing 'Clarence Gallery' and damage this implied to the Linen conservation area.

"Demolition of the building remains integral to the updated application. Therefore UAHS's objection dated 2015 still stands.

"UAHS furthermore concurs with the Historic Environment Division's assessment of impact of these proposals on nearby listed buildings. Upholding our recommendation that this application should be refused."

RPP Architects occupied Clarence Gallery from 1987 until relocating in 2006.

Blue Hairdressing occupied 13 Clarence Street since at least 2006 until May 2017. Reuben's sandwich bar has traded from 26a Linenhall Street since 1996.

A fresh design statement from Turley, on behalf of Killultagh, says it believes demolishing the building is "appropriate" and meets planning and conservation regulations.

"The latest revision to the proposed scheme is informed by the advice of consultant architects, structural engineers (applying conservation principles) and conservation architects," the planning statement says.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Frank Boyd has been given approval to knock down a large office building at Donegall Square South, and to construct in its place a brand new nine-storey office block.

Belfast Telegraph

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