Businesses remaining within the Primark safety exclusion zone have been advised that the current cordon is likely to be in place for a minimum of four months. The four month period is not solely defined by the fact this is a listed building. Any opportunity to shrink this timeline will be taken.
Over the coming days, engineers will be assessing the site before drawing up a plan for next steps which could include building a bracing solution to secure Bank Buildings. Only then will it be possible to determine if the façade can be saved.
At a meeting hosted by Belfast City Council this afternoon, city centre traders were given an update following the fire at Bank Buildings last week.
Fourteen businesses are currently unable to trade as they remain within the safety cordon. This also means that there will be no through access for pedestrians down Royal Avenue while the cordon remains. City Council is tomorrow starting to erect signage to help people navigate around the city.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Deirdre Hargey today reiterated Council’s commitment to doing everything it can to keep Belfast open for business, and to help traders get back to business as usual.
Councillor Hargey said: “Belfast City Council continues to work with its city partners to look at ways we can revive this part of the city centre in the wake of the fire and the ongoing recovery operation.
“While it is imperative that the safety cordon remains, we recognise it is having a serious impact – not just on the traders within the cordon, but for those in the immediate area who are suffering due to a reduction in footfall.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will be implementing a range of measures to help businesses who are struggling in the current situation. Alongside the group meetings, the council has continued to hold one to one meetings with businesses affected to understand all of the individual issues.”
As well as erecting signage to encourage and direct footfall, Council along with other agencies and government departments are working together to find alternative premises for businesses and arranging initiatives for affected traders to provide advice in respect of rates and employability.
Belfast City Council and its city partners is also planning a campaign aimed at sustaining visitors to the city and supporting retailers to run over the next four months.
Councillor Hargey added: “We will be doing everything we can to restore the city to the very vibrant place that it is, and, it is vital that as a city, we continue to rally round to support those affected by this event both directly and indirectly.
“The impact of the fire will be felt for many months to come but I want to reassure our business community that they have our support and we will be with them every step of the way providing whatever support and assistance we can in the weeks and months ahead. I also want to encourage people to continue visiting our city centre and continue to rally round to suppo