This morning at a special sitting of the Belfast City Council Planning Committee plans have been approved for the recording and careful dismantling of the top floor and chimneys of the building down to the level of the fourth floor cornice, for safe storage and the installation of a shoring system. It has also been announced that Primark will stay on the adjacent Castle Street site. This will have the beneficial effect of retaining retail footfall at this heritage city core until conservation and restoration works to the listed building are complete.
UAH is pleased to see letters of support for this important proposal from the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Belfast Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (Ireland), Belfast Civic Trust, Northern Ireland Environmental Link, and members of the public. Credit must be given to the owners of the building, Primark, together with Belfast City Council and the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities for the development and progression of this approval.
Bank Buildings is the anchor building in one of Belfast’s heritage ‘nodes’ which is characterised by some of our best surviving heritage stock. The building itself is a lynchpin in the city’s identity and its offer both for NI residents and tourism. Its retention assures the continuation of a signature historic identity as a place where people would want to live, visit and invest.
Since the Bank buildings fire, UAH has supported and encouraged the evolution of a heritage led plan. We believe that this represents the best solution to allowing the reduction of the cordon, reintroduction of pedestrian access and retail footfall, together with the preservation of the integrity of the city’s valuable built heritage. This mirrors the course of action followed by Glasgow City Council and the Mackintosh School of Art in appreciating the long term value of the City’s signature Historic Buildings as a sustainable economic driver for the future.
Now that approval has been granted, we look forward to seeing the works progress in a timely and controlled manner over the coming weeks. It is hoped that a phase 2 plan for the reinstatement of the upper levels and full reuse and restoration of the remaining historic fabric will follow once the interim shoring and reduction of cordon has been achieved.
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