28 March 2006

Belfast: Major investment for inner city


An artist's impression of part of the new scheme

The government has given the go-ahead for a £300m regeneration of a run-down part of Belfast city centre.

The Royal Exchange Scheme, proposed by Ewart Properties Ltd, centres on the North Street area and could create up to 2,000 jobs.

Plans include a new shopping centre, anchored by a department store.

The project will not be completed until 2011. It is estimated that 1,000 people will help build the development and 2,000 people will be employed there.

On Tuesday, Social Development Minister David Hanson that it was time "to awaken the potential of these streets and buildings".

It is understood that Brown Thomas is the key target to become one of the anchor tenants in the shopping centre.

The new scheme will also be delivered by an international team

Apart from the stores and other retail units, there will be restaurants, bars, cafes, 200 apartments and offices as well as a hotel, with parking for 700 cars.

A regeneration scheme is already under way in the nearby Victoria Square area, and this new scheme will also be high quality and delivered by an international team, according to the developers.

Ben Rainford, managing director of ING Real Estate Development UK, one of the partners said: "Royal Exchange will revitalise the area with a mix of complementary uses and public squares for the benefit of the whole of Belfast."

The other partner in the development is Snoddens Construction from Lisburn, County Antrim.

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