Primark shares its vision of what restored Bank Buildings will offer
A pre-planning event taking place at Primark's Castle Street unit has revealed that a restored and revamped Bank Buildings store will offer a cafe as part of the retailer's "new shopping experience".
The details, which are also outlined in a new website monitoring the developments at the building destroyed by a fire last August, were also distributed in a leaflet to some 1,900 properties within 400m of Bank Buildings.
It said: "Primark Stores Ltd is now bringing forward plans for a conservation-led scheme that would fully restore Bank Buildings to its former glory, and provide an investment that will revive the iconic building and our flagship Belfast store.
"The devastating fire at Bank Buildings meant that we were unable to deliver our newly renovated and extended store at Bank Buildings. We have been pleased to open our Castle St and Donegall Place stores in response to the fire, restoring our presence in Belfast city centre, whilst work has been ongoing to make safe and restore Bank Buildings.
"However, we look forward to the near future when Bank Buildings and its extension are reopened as a single store and we can welcome back our customers into a new larger store."
The pre-planning event which was held last Thursday and another which will take place this Tuesday in the Castle Street Primark, as well as the distributed leaflets, set out to gauge the views of the public and local businesses.
Primark said the pre-application discussions with Belfast City Council, the local community and businesses "will provide us with the opportunity to share details of our vision for Bank Buildings and ensure that our proposals are shaped by the feedback we receive".
The retailer will submit plans in August and says reconstruction and restoration will start in January.
The exterior of the building will retain its original character, said the retailer.
It added: "No major external changes are planned to the building, but we are designing an amazing new retail experience which will incorporate a modern fit-out as part of a new layout within the existing historic facade, along with new facilities such as a customer cafe, to our Primark store."
A spokesperson for the firm said the plans were at a very early stage and no finer details of the offering could be given but the pre-planning event follows the retailer's significant investment in some of its other stores in the UK including the new Birmingham outlet which is thought to have cost around £70m and is now the biggest in the UK.
Among its new services is a barbers, hairdressers, cafe and restaurant.
And in Manchester the retailer has introduced a Friends-themed cafe that takes inspiration from the popular American sitcom from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the joint investigation with the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland determined the cause of the fire at Bank Buildings on August 28 last year was "accidental".
The PSNI confirmed on Wednesday that there was no police investigation into the matter.