Concerns are growing over the Sirocco Quays regeneration project as the developers behind the scheme this week announced they are calling on creditors to help keep their business afloat.
Carvill Group, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest house-builders and developers, is working on entering a creditors voluntary arrangement — in effect allowing it to try to trade its way out of administration.
Managing director Christopher Carvill said: “We recognise the difficulty that this course of action will have for our creditors and can only apologise for having to do it. We will be continuing to pursue planning permissions for our projects and onward development of them.”
The £600m Sirocco Quays development, described as “a new cultural destination for the city” and one of the Carvill Group’s leading Belfast projects, and which secured outline planning permission just last year, is now anticipated to go ahead on a less ambitious scale.
Original plans for the 15-acre mixed-use site on Belfast’s waterfront included 5,000 apartments, an international convention centre, four hotels, childcare facilities, a care home, a supermarket and 1,800 parking spaces.
Sinn Fein Pottinger representative Niall O Donnghaile said: “It is with disappointment and regret that we learn of the company’s current difficulties.
“While our party has had issues with some of the proposals for Sirocco Quays, what cannot be disputed is its potential for regeneration and economic development. Sirocco has the potential to throw open the east side of the river Lagan and extend the city centre beyond its current confines.
“It also has the potential for the development of much needed housing, leisure and sporting provision as well as better transport infrastructure within this part of the city.”
DUP MLA Robin Newton told the Community Telegraph: “I’m disappointed that the company finds itself in some financial difficulties. I hope that they can successfully trade out of the situation.
“They have a very strong management team with an excellent track record. They offer a major opportunity to east Belfast with the Sirocco Quays development and I sincerely hope they find a way through and get the support they require.”
UUP councillor Michael Copeland said: “Very large segments of the construction industry are teetering on the brink of the abyss.
“The Carvill Group is a long established company with a skill base that once disassembled would be almost impossible to re-assemble.
“Very few of the major companies that were in existence 10 of 15 years ago remain today. This news is a tragedy not only for the company and its shareholders, but for those in all walks of life who are dependent on its business activities for their livelihood.”