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Chancellor allocates £2m to help Belfast recover from Bank Buildings fire

The major blaze at the Bank Buildings in August has had a devastating effect on trade in the city centre

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A fire at the Bank Buildings in Belfast has devastated footfall (PA/Liam McBurney)

A fire at the Bank Buildings in Belfast has devastated footfall (PA/Liam McBurney)

A fire at the Bank Buildings in Belfast has devastated footfall (PA/Liam McBurney)

The Chancellor has allocated £2 million to help Belfast city centre recover following a major fire.

The historic Banks Building, which housed Primark, was left a charred shell after the blaze on August 28 that took several days to extinguish.

A safety cordon around the building has been in place since then.

It has left 14 businesses unable to trade.

Earlier this month, it emerged the fire caused a 30% drop in footfall in the city centre.

A Belfast City Council report has found a reduction of almost 50% in some areas close to Bank Buildings.

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Prime Minister Theresa May listens to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his Budget statement (PA)

Prime Minister Theresa May listens to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his Budget statement (PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Prime Minister Theresa May listens to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his Budget statement (PA)

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On Monday, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £2 million for the city centre during his Budget statement.

“I was pleased to be able to respond to a joint request by the members for Belfast North, Belfast East and Belfast South to provide the city with £2 million help towards the recovery of the city centre following the fire at the iconic Bank Buildings,” he told the House of Commons.

Last week, Primark was granted permission by the city council’s planning committee to commence work on Bank Buildings.

Earlier in October, the council announced details of a £1.69 million package aimed at attracting people into the city centre.

It included a ski slope, ferris wheel and mini festival.

However, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, Aodhan Connolly said the allocation falls short of expectation.

“While we are grateful that central government has now followed the lead of Primark, and Belfast City Council in delivering monies to support the traders of Belfast and to encourage footfall, this amount falls short of expectations,” he said.

“The main retail hub of not only Belfast but of Northern Ireland has effectively been cut in two with some areas having footfall drops of over 50%.

“The resilience of retailers is being sorely tested by this tragic event and we hope that central government will do more.”


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