Belfast Telegraph

£75m rooftop running track plan for old Belfast Telegraph building

By Margaret Canning

The former Belfast Telegraph building could become home to the city's first rooftop running track as part of a £75m regeneration plan, it was announced today.

Developers Bel Tel LLP, which includes directors from Co Tyrone building firm McAleer and Rushe, said their plans "place user well-being at the centre of a pioneering office and creative workspace development".

It's hoped new occupiers of the site would bring 2,000 well-paid jobs.

An application has been submitted to Belfast City Council detailing how Bel Tel LLP plans to restore and refurbish the Grade B2 Listed 1886 'Seaver building', which was home to this newspaper until two years ago.

Bel Tel LLP also plans a new building on the remainder of the site, with 230,000 square feet of workspace on seven floors and an atrium that will be open to the public. There will also be shops and food and drink options on the site, which has been renamed 'The Sixth' in a reference to Belfast's Telegraph evening edition, "the sixth late Tele".

Work is due to begin by the end of the year if the plans get the go-ahead.

Stephen Surphlis of Bel Tel LLP said: "Offices and workspace are evolving and UK and international companies are looking to Belfast and the wealth of talent we have on tap from our universities and within our professional, creative and technology sectors.

"These firms are placing a premium on employee satisfaction and are seeking working environments that facilitate team interaction, innovation and creativity.

"Our plans for The Sixth emphasise quality, heritage-led design that makes a contribution to both user wellbeing, and the fabric of our city."

Architecture firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize for its work on Burntwood School in London, has been enlisted to work on the scheme.

Paul Monaghan, founding director of AHMM, said: "The Sixth is a bold project, focused on the experience of its users and mindful of the site's landmark status and importance as part of Belfast's built heritage. We have taken cues from the surrounding buildings and the city's lost Victorian arcades, and will restore features removed or lost from the original listed building.

"For example, we're planning to reinstate the building's main access onto Royal Avenue and reintroduce dormer windows removed from the original roofline.

"New features such as the roof-top running track, roof-top terraces and break-out spaces complement the building's focus on the user.

"A new public atrium space serves as walkway through the building, which alongside a range of ground floor retail and food and beverage offers will enliven the street level space around Royal Avenue and Donegall Street.

"The Sixth will contribute to the rapid regeneration of the area and with its close proximity to Ulster University, it will be at the centre of an emerging creative district serving the education, culture, media and technology sectors."

Councillor Aileen Graham, deputy chair of Belfast City Council's City growth and regeneration committee, said: "The partnership is pleased to have submitted its full planning application for The Sixth.

"We've made a commitment in the Belfast Agenda to growing our city's economy and positioning the city to compete internationally. Quality, innovative workspaces like The Sixth will attract the high-value jobs necessary to grow our economy and help our people reach their full potential.

"Not only will The Sixth boost the city centre's vibrancy as part of an emerging creative district, it's going to breathe new life into one of Belfast's most loved and iconic buildings."

Belfast Telegraph

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