Belfast - Building Information Ireland

Plans sought for £64m commercial development in Belfast Harbour

By | Industry News

Belfast Harbour has put forward plans to to build a £64 million commercial development on the city’s docklands,

As part of a larger regeneration project for the area, the plan sees the construction of a 10-storey building primarily for offices.

Retail use is expected for the ground floor while a rooftop bar and restaurant is also proposed.

One of the entrances to the building will be from the proposed City Quays Garden and Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s office.

A separate entrance and a gallery/community space is also proposed from Donegall Quay and a pedestrian footbridge link to a multi-storey car park to the rear.

Belfast Harbour submitted plans for the project in December of last year with dates validated on February 1.

Credit: RPP Architects - Belfast

As part of a larger regeneration project for the area, the plan sees the construction of a 10-storey building primarily for offices. Credit: RPP Architects – Belfast

The development is a part of the broader £275 million City Quays project on the former docklands of Northern Ireland’s capital.

Known as City Quays 5, it’s the latest stage in the office-led scheme which the port describe as a “response to ongoing demand by inward investors and indigenous firms for new Grade A office space in Belfast”.

Developers aim for the building to be the first development in Northern Ireland to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating.

Last month, permission was granted for City Quays 4 – a £46m residential development of 256 build-to-rent apartments.

It joins City Quays 1, 2 and 3 Grade A office developments, a multi-storey car park, City Quays Gardens and The AC Marriot Hotel.

It is believed that the project will generate 7,000 new jobs and support a further 3,500 construction jobs in total.

Feature Image Credit: RPP Architects – Belfast

Credit: VINCI-Airports.com

Work begins on £100m Belfast Airport Revamp

By | Industry News

Work has begun on the £100 million revamp at Belfast International Airport.

The extension will see a brand new security building for the airport in a five-year expansion plan.

In this building, Generation 3 x-ray equipment will be installed to keep the airport in line with the United Kingdom’s new guidelines.

The plan put forward by the airport’s owner VINCI Airports also sees an update to existing facilities, including an improved airside departure area with additional departure gates and extra seating.

Travellers in the future will be treated to extra shopping and catering facilities.

The Border Force area will also be extended over the next five years.

Phase one began this October with the demolition of the old arrivals terminal. Work will then commence on the construction of the new £25 million security building, next to the departures terminal.

It is estimated that 400 local construction jobs will be created for the duration of the build.

“VINCI Airports’ investment will support Belfast International Airport’s positive dynamic by strongly improving the passenger experience,” said Nicolas Notebaert, CEO of VINCI Concessions & President of VINCI Airports.

“The airport plays a pivotal role for aviation, tourism and the wider local economy. As a long-term partner, VINCI Airports is committed to sustainably develop the airport and increase its environmental performance”.

In December of last year, the UK government set a deadline of June 2024 for all of its airports to install the new Standard 3 x-ray equipment.

The new x-ray machines will see an end to 100ml liquid restrictions when travelling.

Instead, passengers will no longer have to take liquids and large electrical items out of their cabin luggage while going through security.

“The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change. I’m streamlining cabin bag rules at airports while enhancing security,” UK’s Transport Secretary Mark Harper said at the time.

“By 2024, major airports across the UK will have the latest security tech installed, reducing queuing times, improving the passenger experience, and most importantly detecting potential threat.”

Feature Image Credit: VINCI-Airports.com

Feature Image Credit: Graham Construction

Official Sod Turning Takes Place For First Build-To-Rent Apartments in Belfast

By | Industry News

The official sod turning has taken place for the development of £117 million apartments in Belfast.

While preparatory construction work gas began on site in July, the main contractor Graham Construction has officially started work on the site which will deliver 778 apartments in the Titanic Quarter of the city.

Developers Watkin Jones held a ceremony on September 12 to mark the beginning of the first Build To Rent scheme in Northern Ireland.

Known as The Loft Lines, it will house 627 Build to Rent apartments alongside 151 affordable homes (for Clanmil Housing Association) across three different buildings.

Forward funded by Legal & General, they will include studios, one-bed, two-beds and three-beds on the 3.8-acre site.

Credit: Todd Architects

The official sod turning has taken place for the development of £117 million apartments in Belfast. Credit: Todd Architects

Each block will provide a shared external amenity courtyard on the first floor and another amenity space at the roof level.

There will also be lounges, cinema rooms, sports and recreational spaces and children’s play areas for the apartments.

In a ‘resident first’ approach, cyclists and pedestrians will be prioritised over cars which includes bike storage with wash down and repair facilities as well as covered storage for visitors’ cycles.

The scheme was brought forward by a development partnership of Watkin Jones PLC, Pirrie Belfast Limited and Lacuna Developments.

While securing approval to go-ahead in October last year, construction was delayed due to the financial climate.

Credit: Todd Architects

Known as The Loft Lines, it will house 627 Build to Rent apartments alongside 151 affordable homes (for Clanmil Housing Association) across three different buildings. Credit: Todd Architects

Speaking at the ceremony marking the dawn of construction, Group Investment Director for Watkin Jone George Dyer hailed the Titanic Quarter as an area ‘steeped in rich history’.

“Transforming this brownfield site into a thriving place to live and acting as a catalyst for wider regeneration,” he said with the backdrop of the Titanic Museum behind him.

“The development is being brought to fruition by a partnership approach between all stakeholders and funders and we are grateful for the genuine collaboration we have experienced with our partners. This event demonstrates the progress the teams are making for the city of Belfast.”

Anthony Best, Managing Director of Lacuna Developments, said it was ‘fantastic’ to see the development come to life.

Feature Image Credit: Graham Construction

Speaking at the ceremony marking the dawn of construction, Group Investment Director for Watkin Jone George Dyer hailed the Titanic Quarter as an area ‘steeped in rich history’. Credit: Graham Construction

“Along with public realm, retail for the wider TQ community and a creche which the scheme will deliver, it is hugely exciting to be involved in the event.”

Completion of the apartments is expected in late 2025.

Feature Image Credit: Graham Construction

Credit: Todd Architects

Work begins for £117m 778 new homes in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

By | Industry News

Work is underway for the construction of 778 new homes in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Preparatory construction work began in July for the £117 million development, right beside the city’s most popular tourist attraction Titanic Belfast.

The Loft Lines will provide Belfast’s first ever ”build-to-rent” apartments, alongside social housing, with the website stating that they have learnt from the “Swiss approach to living”.
On a 3.8 acre site, the apartments will be split among three buildings and will include studios, one-bed, two-beds and three-beds.

Internal and external amenity spaces are in current provisions – including spaces for co-working and leisure.

Each block will provide a shared external amenity courtyard on the first floor and another amenity space at roof level.

Credit: Todd Architects

Credit: Todd Architects

Flexible commercial and community floor space has been reserved for convenience stores with a hot food counter, a cafe, a bar and a restaurant.

In regards to public realm changes, both a public recreational square and a waterfront promenade skirting along the River Lagan are planned for the development, situated on Queen’s Island.

Cycle and car parking will be provided with developers stating their intention to “prioritise pedestrians and bikes over cars” – this includes bike storage with wash down and repair facilities and covered storage for visitors’ cycles.

Although applicants Lacuna Developments, Watkin Jones PLC and Pirrie Belfast Limited secured approval in April 2022, it was announced in October that commencement would be delayed until “at least spring 2023” due to the financial climate.

By June of this year, a contract was awarded to Graham Construction and construction has now officially begun.

Completion of the apartments is expected in late 2025.

Credit: @niplanner

Credit: @niplanner

All private apartments will be run by an onsite management team and monthly rent payments will include gym and wi-fi.

On The Loft Lines website, the development has been hailed as a “new way of living for people of all ages, incomes and occupations”.

“It’s a fully managed site of private, affordable and social homes surrounded by walkways, boulevards, a park and an urban woodland. It’s a place where lifestyle is scaled up.”

Feature Image Credit: Todd Architects 

New £25 million hotel in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter gets green light from council

By | Upcoming Construction Projects

Belfast City Council has approved the development of a £25 million hotel in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.

The 164-bed hotel is set to be erected from the former Nambarrie Tea Factory building on the corner of Waring Street and Victoria Street.

The plan will see a three-storey extension to the old factory, which will include a rooftop “sky” bar.

A ground-floor restaurant, a fitness room and meeting rooms are also included in the current plans.

The hotel is backed by Essex-based investment company Propiteer.

The £25 million investment will be a Moxy hotel, a sub-group of the Merriot Hotel brand.

Propiteer’s website states that the Moxy will bring “Marriott International’s contemporary brand to the historic Cathedral Quarter of Northern Ireland’s capital city”.

“Following the acquisition of the old Nambarrie tea factory in Belfast, a prominent building in the city centre, Propiteer have worked closely with city councillors and the planning department to sympathetically retain structural elements of the existing building, whilst designing a unique seven storey hotel reflective of its cultural surroundings.”

It also promises that the ground floor will be designed to accommodate live music.

The Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee approved the proposal unanimously at their meeting on June 14.

In the council’s Professional Planning Report, it was found that the “three-storey extension was considered acceptable following key design changes to minimise its impact on the character and appearance of the host building, setting of adjacent listed buildings and the conservation area”.

Their backing comes despite objections from the owners of the nearby Merchant hotel on Skipper Street.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, owners Beannchor put forward concerns to the council over the lack of notice of the new development as well as overshadowing.

A council Planning Officer raised their objections at the meeting on June 14, stating their concerns that an extension would “give rise to noise, odour, overlooking and overshadowing impacts on the amenity of residents in their hotel.”

At the meeting, officers found that there would be “no unacceptable overshadowing” due to the separation distance between the two buildings.

The report recorded one other objection to the hotel, which queried if the “heritage” street sign would be retained.

The report said that the objector had “no objection to any other part of the design proposed above, only to preserve a piece of our heritage.”

It is understood that the sign will be retained as part of the proposals.

Belfast City Council

New £100 million tourism attraction announced for Belfast

By | Industry News

A new £100 million tourism attraction has been announced for the city of Belfast.

Located in the heart of the northern city, the multi-million project aims to tell the stories of the city and its people.

As part of the development, the listed Art Deco former Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue will be restored to house elements of the attraction.

The building was acquired by Belfast City Council with the surrounding 4,000sq/m site also set to be developed for an interactive visitor experience.

A state-of-the-art cultural film centre dedicated to showcasing the “best visual storytelling” from Northern Ireland and around the wider world is included in current plans.

In a move towards sustainable developments, a rooftop urban park providing sweeping sights of the city is being considered.

Belfast City Council announced that renewable energy solutions, such as geothermal energy sources, are currently being explored in relation to these projects,

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl said the announcement represented a “significant moment” for the city.

“Belfast Stories will reflect the unique spirit of our city through a variety of media and immersive experiences. It will drive culture-led regeneration across the city, giving us the opportunity to put the people of Belfast and their stories at its heart,” she said in a statement.

“It’s an investment, not just in monetary terms, but in our people and the generations to come, and an important investment in our heritage and in our future. This is a hugely positive news story for the city and will reap benefits not just for our tourism sector, but in the creation of new jobs and regenerating communities.”

She said that this project will not just zero in on the city centre but also “connect to the development of neighbourhood tourism”.

This is the flagship project of the “once-in-a-generation” Belfast Region City Deal (BCRD) signed earlier this month and is one of the deal’s seven planned tourist attractions.

Although first announced in 2019, its terms were formally signed off earlier this month.

All in all, 20 ambitious projects have been proposed with the BCRD aiming to promote growth in sectors such as life and health sciences, digital and creative industries and advanced manufacturing.

Costing £1 billion in total, the deal also focuses on infrastructure developments.

A lofty sum of £300 million has been committed to five sectors of excellence across the region.

With both the Stormont and UK governments pledging £350million each, it is estimated that the deal will reel in up to 20,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years.

Six councils with proposed projects and universities are also contributing funds.

Other schemes proposed in the deal include a £55 million region innovation fund for Belfast, which is hoped will stimulate innovation in artificial intelligence and data, health and wellbeing and sustainability and resilience — which have been dubbed the three Grand Challenges.

Regeneration projects have also been put forward for surrounding areas of Belfast, including Newry, Hillsborough, Bangor seafront and Carrickfergus.