Planning permission has been granted to convert one of Belfast’s tallest buildings into the four-star luxury Grand Central Hotel.
Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee last night approved the application from Hastings Hotel Group for the refurbishment and extension of Windsor House in Bedford Street into a 200-bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar facilities.
The Belfast Grand Central Hotel will also include 16 serviced apartments and new ground floor retail units, as well as refurbished office space on the upper floors of the 24-storey building.
It is the third major hotel application that the committee has approved since the council became responsible for planning in April, under Local Government Reform.
Committee chair Councillor Matt Garrett said the approval reflected the growing demand for hotel bed space, made possible by recent investments in the city centre.
“From next year, there will be a huge increase in the number of business delegates travelling to Belfast to use the expanded conference facilities at Belfast Waterfront, and potentially returning again as leisure visitors,” he said.
“It’s vital that we provide enough high quality accommodation to meet this demand. This latest development will help plug that gap, while also regenerating one of the main thoroughfares into the city and bringing increased vitality to this historic part of Belfast.”
At 80 metres high and over 122,000 sq ft in size, Windsor House is the second highest building in Belfast, and was built in 1975. Under the proposals, the ground to 15th floors of the landmark structure will be converted into new hotel accommodation, with the serviced apartments taking up the 16th and 17th floors.
Existing office units on the 18th to 22nd floors will be retained and extended, while part of the ground floor podium at the front and side of the existing building will be demolished and rebuilt to form a new entrance to the hotel.
Sir William Hastings has said the development will create 150 new jobs in the hospitality sector when it opens in 2018.
Among the other applications approved at last night’s meeting is a new six-storey office development for All-State NI, adjacent to Maysfield Leisure Centre and Central Station.
The scheme will create a further 200 new jobs for the city, this time in the IT sector, and bring over £100,000 of community benefits, including a new Belfast Bikes docking station.