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Next steps in extensive Belfast Waterside development get green light

A major new development which could create over 8,000 jobs and provide homes for more than 1,500 residents has been approved by Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee.

The full Belfast Waterside scheme – located on the site of the former Sirocco Works – is set to transform the east bank of the city through a mixed use waterfront development made up of offices, apartments and a hotel, together with retail, hospitality and professional service units and community and leisure facilities.

Developers Osborne+Co (Swinford Sirocco Ltd) estimate that, as well as creating 875 full-time jobs during construction, the project, once completed, will have the capacity to support 8,295 full-time equivalent jobs, 6,130 of which will be on site and a further 2,760 through the supply chain, through almost 80,000sqm of office space.

An employability and skills programme, designed to ‘skill up’ residents and reflect the jobs delivered through the scheme, will also support the project as part of a Section 76 planning agreement secured by the council.

Proposed residential accommodation – almost 64,000 sqm of the site – will include 675 units for approximately 1,570 residents, up to 20% of which will be affordable housing units, including a minimum of 10% social housing, while a ‘creative cluster’ building, facing onto the River Lagan, will include a public square, reflecting the site’s industrial heritage and new spaces for community and arts use.

The full framework for the 2.6 hectare site explains how it will be opened up through extensive public realm works, including a new street network and linear park, the removal of existing boundary walls, landscaping, a replacement pedestrian bridge over the River Lagan and improved access to both Short Strand and Bridge End.

“This is a massive step forward for Belfast, with the potential to create almost 20% of the jobs pledged through the Belfast Agenda, our community plan, as well as providing new space for city centre living, another of our key goals,“ said Councillor Arder Carson, Chair of the Planning Committee.

“The provision of additional high quality office space in a brand new part of the city centre will be hugely attractive to investors as Belfast continues to grow in stature internationally as a great place to do business.

“I’m also pleased that this project will not only finally transform a site which has been out of use since 1999, but also provide affordable housing units, responding to housing need and ensuring it becomes a place for everyone, with the facilities required to reflect our expected growth in our population by 2035.”

Tonight’s decision is one of a number of high-profile planning applications granted approval by councillors this week.

On Tuesday evening, planning permission was given to begin work on a £17 million restoration and extension of the historic Templemore Baths, as part of the council’s Leisure Transformation Programme, providing state-of-the-art leisure facilities, including a new 25m six-lane pool, for inner east Belfast.

A £7 million plan to restore the Grade B1-listed St Comgall’s school, providing a vital boost to economic and social regeneration in west Belfast through the creation of a multi-use community hub, was also granted approval, along with a 251-bed purpose-built managed student accommodation development, on vacant lands between University Road and Botanic Avenue.

A vacant car park in the heart of Smithfield will also be transformed into further office and retail space, including workspace for small and medium enterprises, breathing new life into the city’s inner north-west area and bringing the listed Butcher’s building on the corner of Gresham Street back into use.

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