Belfast Telegraph

Two retailers ready to move into former BHS store in Belfast

By John Mulgrew

The former BHS store in Belfast city centre is due to get a facelift and will be split up to take on at least two new businesses, it has emerged.

A fresh planning application shows the large retail site, left vacant for more than a year, will be divided up, along with new signage and a facelift.

It will divide the large building down its natural split, which sees Castle Arcade cutting through the two separate sections of the building.

The shutters were pulled down on the Castle Place store in August 2016, with the loss of 57 jobs. In July, the Belfast Telegraph reported that two new retailers looked set to take on the building.

It's understood one firm is currently relocating from elsewhere in the city to take on part of the building. The new plans include removing the existing facade, and stripping back the interior to the structural frame.

A design statement said the building will be re-dressed with "new external fabric and leaving the interior ready for retail fit-out".

Todd Architects, who is behind the new plans on behalf of owners M&G Real Estate, said around 100 jobs could be created when the empty building is put back in use.

The design statement said the building's new facade will include large display windows, framed by aluminium cladding.

And speaking about the Castle Arcade lane, to avoid "anti-social behaviour", lighting will be installed, with a "temporary gate to close off the arcade after store trading hours".

"This will provide retailers with the level of security they require and will ensure the unit is lettable for all future tenants," it said.

Elsewhere, Primark is taking the former BHS unit at the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey, while furniture retailer EZ Living Interiors is taking on the large unit left behind when BHS Home shut its doors at Holywood Exchange.

The latest lettings figures show that while there was a slow start to 2017, with just 14 lettings in Belfast, the second half finished stronger.

Major deals completed included UTV becoming anchor tenant at City Quays 2, and First Derivatives setting up a new Belfast base at the newly-refurbished Weaving Works building at Ormeau Avenue.

"Going forward, interest in the market remains healthy and the take-up recorded in the second half of 2017 strongly supports this view," said David Wright, CBRE director.

There were 33 transactions completed in the second half of 2017, bringing the yearly total of office take-up to 430,290 sq ft.

Mr Wright said that the initial "low volume of transactions and take-up recorded in the first half of the year was not an accurate reflection of the activity" in the office market.

He added: "Take-up in the last six months has emanated from a wide range of FDI companies taking new space, as well as local companies relocating into larger office accommodation due to significant growth in their own respective businesses."

Belfast Telegraph

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