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King's Hall 'Thrupenny Bit' flattened as work begins on £100m healthcare park


Demolition work begins on the King’s Hall Conference Centre

Demolition work begins on the King’s Hall Conference Centre

Demolition work begins on the King’s Hall Conference Centre

It was the end of an era yesterday as demolition work started on one of Belfast's most famous venues.

The bulldozers moved in to tear down the King's Hall Conference Centre on the city's Lisburn Road.

The demolition is the first phase of a massive £100m redevelopment project which will see the former home of the Balmoral Show transformed into a healthcare park.

The conference centre - known affectionately to locals as the 'Thrupenny Bit' - was built in the 1960s in a then-fashionable octagonal style, nestled in the enormous shadow of the King's Hall, home of the Balmoral Show for much of Northern Ireland's existence.

While the King's Hall itself is a listed building, the surrounding buildings and stables used for decades as part of the annual agricultural show are not and will be demolished as the phased development progresses.

The listed King's Hall venue will be made into a primary healthcare centre.

The main access road for the new healthcare development will be constructed across the site of the 'Thrupenny Bit'.

The King's Hall Health and Wellbeing Park is a project of Benmore Octopus Healthcare Developments, who received planning permission in April last year.

The first phase of the development will see the construction of Dataworks, a new precision medicine hub designed to attract data-focused medical companies to a secure and collaborative space

Local company Diaceutics, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has already signed up as an anchor tenant for 10,000 sq ft of space and other firms are expected to follow suit. The wider masterplan for the 16-acre site also includes proposals for residential and nursing care located close to an established community, as well as assisted living spaces providing quality care for people in later life.

The developers say that once completed, the project will boost the Northern Ireland economy by £47m annually and support 640 full-time equivalent jobs.

It will also support a further 320 jobs indirectly.

The King's Hall, named for King George V, has a cherished place in Belfast's history. Over the decades the venue hosted stars from the entertainment and boxing worlds, with the most successful concerts including Cliff Richard, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen and U2.

Boxing hero Barry McGuigan also fought at the venue.

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