Local planning powers lead to £400m of major Belfast developments

Belfast has seen more than £400m worth of major development in the two years since planning powers were devolved to local government.

In a report presented to the planning committee, it was shown that 21 new office developments, 17 new or expanded hotels and 12 student accommodation projects had been granted planning permission between April 2015 and April 2017.

The 21 office developments represent an investment of £165m in the city’s infrastructure.

The hotel developments will add around 1,500 new beds and £70m of investment to the city’s tourism business.

The student accommodation projects represent around 5,800 beds and £175m in construction value.

The projects granted planning permission include the 12-storey One Bankmore Square development, which will be the single biggest office block ever built in the city centre.

The scheme represents an estimated £65m investment by the Richland Group.

Councillor Peter Johnston, chair of the council’s planning committee, said: “As our figures show, there is an acute and increasing demand for grade-A office accommodation in the city, and we are delighted to have been able to take this latest development to the next stage.

“We worked very closely with the developer to ensure that this application was turned around as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“From the plans being lodged to [the] decision, it has taken just eight weeks to process this application.

“This demonstrates the planning service’s commitment to working with those wishing to drive forward development in the city, and to fulfilling the aims of the Belfast Agenda in terms of job creation.”

The committee has also approved planning permission for two conversion schemes: the Scottish Mutual building into a boutique hotel and Sinclair House from office accommodation to 30 student apartments.

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