Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's North Street Arcade returning as part of £500m Tribeca

An artist’s impression of how North Street Arcade might look in the £500m proposed development
An artist’s impression of how North Street Arcade might look in the £500m proposed development
An artist’s impression of how Writer’s Square might look in the £500m proposed development
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Belfast's North Street Arcade is to make a comeback as part of the controversial £500m Tribeca Belfast development.

The listed building on Donegall Street had been a well-loved centre for independent traders until it was severely damaged in an April 2004 arson attack.

A total of 23 businesses, including a pet shop, were hit by the blaze, which destroyed the arcade’s glass roof. Most of the structure remains intact.

Now developer Castlebrooke Investments has said it is “committed to bringing North Street Arcade back into use in a new format”. It said space will be designed for independent retailers.

Despite a public backlash over the developer’s decision to call the project Tribeca, Castlebrooke has so far refused to budge on the name, which it says is short for ‘Triangle beside the Cathedral’.

The company said it relates to the 12-acre development site located beside St Anne’s Cathedral and which is bounded by Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, Lower Garfield Street and Rosemary Street.

Critics point out that the name is already synonymous with the neighbourhood of the same name in New York City.

Castlebrooke, which is expected to submit an outline planning application to Belfast City Council in the autumn, has launched a 10-week public consultation exercise on its proposals.

Castlebrooke has already amended some of its original proposal. Most significantly, a 27-storey office tower proposed for the corner of Rosemary Street and North Street will now be reduced to 10 storeys.

The developer also said that it will retain a greater number of original buildings in the area.

The updated plans also allow for more green spaces, courtyards and residential space.

In total, Castlebrooke claims that the entire project will create more than 6,000 direct permanent jobs.

Despite clinging on to the unpopular Tribeca branding for the project, Castlebrooke Investments’ chief executive Neil Young said yesterday that the firm had demonstrated that it had listened to feedback from the city.

“We will continue to listen and today we have launched a voluntary public consultation process into these planned changes ahead of the submission of our application. Our community exhibition will provide an opportunity for anyone interested to see the new plans and we will be revealing more information about this in the coming weeks.”

He said Castlebrooke had already invested £50m in the project.

Graeme Moore from the Consarc Design Group said: “The proposals respond to the valuable comments of interested parties and the new scheme realises the aspiration of reintroducing the North Street Arcade with the end blocks to North Street and Donegall Street legible once again as entrances to this important connection.”

Welcoming the positive nature of the announcement, Queen’s University architecture lecturer Dr Agustina Martire, acting chair of the Save CQ campaign said the group had had a productive meeting with Castlebrooke Investments and their new architects, Squire & Partners, yesterday

“We are cautiously optimistic that both are listening and some real progress is being made,” she said.

“Both Castlebrooke and their new architects have responded positively to us in terms of the local economy, housing, heritage, public space and accessibility; however sufficient arts and culture provision within the proposed redevelopment remains a real concern.”

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