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£300m Belfast regeneration project hits the buffers

Published: Thursday, 5th May 2016

Department for Social Development withdraws support for previously selected scheme but remains committed to regenerating the area…

An ambitious £300m plan to redevelop north Belfast appears to be dead in the water now that Stormont is no longer supporting the mixed-use scheme proposed by Northside Regeneration Ltd.

The developer, a consortium including constructor Balfour Beatty and property developer Kevin McKay, had been chosen by the Department for Social Development (DSD) after a competitive design brief exercise.

The consortium was planning the comprehensive redevelopment of a set of sites in and around Royal Avenue, to the north of the city centre, which had experienced dereliction and neglect over a number of years.

But the outline plans for new housing, retail, and leisure and student accommodation were rejected earlier this year. Controversially, the scheme involved demolition of buildings including some well-loved landmarks.

A spokesperson for the DSD said: “Following a recent assessment of the scheme which took into account a number of areas where the developer had not met requirements set by the department, the minister has decided with regret that the scheme proposed by Northside Regeneration Limited should not be supported by his department at this time.”

The DSD has insisted it remains committed to the regeneration of the area but has stressed that Northside Regeneration’s project will no longer benefit from the potential use of the department's statutory powers.

Roger Milne