The last Victorian-era building on a Belfast city centre street is set to be demolished to make way for a multi-million pound office block.
On Tuesday evening, Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee gave the new seven-storey development on Upper Queen Street the green light.
Northern Ireland-registered company Hegan and Company has owned the building for 60 years. The three-storey building will now be demolished and an office building, with a retail unit on the ground floor, erected in its place.
The project came before the committee last month, however a decision was deferred to allow members to visit the site to evaluate the benefits of keeping the historical building.
In April, Sinn Fein Councillor Geraldine McAteer recommended committee members visit the site, which is located at the junction of 46-52 Upper Queen Street and 11a Wellington Street, before making a final decision.
“It’s the last Victorian building on that street, from 1860, and I do think [the proposed development] could distract from the historical fabric of the area,” she said at the time.
Dating back to around 1860, the building on Upper Queen Street is currently home to a cafe, a barbers and a shop.
BCC planners recommended approving the new project, as the current building's historical merit “was in age only”.
“The critical consideration in this case is the merits of the proposal against the contribution of the existing building to the character of the Conservation Area,” planners said in their report.
“Given the Conservation opinion that the contribution is limited to its age only, it is considered on balance, that the economic benefits and compliance with the majority of policies as discussed above outweigh the loss of this building. In terms of design, the proposal.”
The council received five objections from residents raising concerns about the project, relating to the building’s proposed height, the loss of historic fabric/buildings, impact on the character of the area, inappropriate design and loss of retail space.
No objections were raised from any consultees, including TNI Roads, Environmental Health, DEARA and the Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division.
At Tuesday’s meeting Councillor McAteer did speak to say she was opposed to the building’s demolition on the grounds it would “alter the historical fabric of the area”, however the committee later agreed the new development should be given the green light.
Local News Partnership