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Belfast developer William Ewart Properties has reached an agreement with the Northern Irish Government to redevelop the northeast quarter of Belfast city centre.

Ewarts and a consortium comprising ING Real Estate and Snoddons Construction agreed heads of terms today with the Department for Social Development for its Royal Exchange mixed-use scheme.

The £300m scheme comprises around 800,000 sq ft of mixed-use space including 420,000 sq ft of retail, to include a department store, two further anchor stores and restaurants, a hotel, leisure space and a 700 space car park.

Subject to final conditions and agreement, the agreement will lead to the adoption of a statutory development scheme and if needed, the use of the department’s compulsory purchase powers for the comprehensive regeneration of a major part of Belfast city centre.

Important step

Nick Reid, Ewart chief executive, said: ‘Today's announcement marks an important step forward in the ongoing regeneration of Belfast City Centre. Royal Exchange aims to deliver a distinctive, aspirational retail offer of top quality international brands not currently represented in the City. This will provide Belfast with the European quality retail offer it deserves.’

Andrew Eldridge, development director at ING Real Estate, said: ‘Belfast is a rising European regional capital and we believe strongly in its potential. Our aim is to deliver a high quality scheme to attract major new retail names which are complementary to the existing retail offer in Belfast.

The next stages in the development process include the signing of the final development agreement and the submission of a planning application. The scheme is due to open in 2013.
 

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If those images of Royal Avenue are anything to go by, then the 'historical' centre of Belfast is going to be turned into a 'multi-storey' boucher road retail style development. That image gives the feel of a souless, endless array of crap to look forward to. And no doubt they will knock down a few classics in their way.
 

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G2GAP

I kind of like the original scheme would have fitted in very well fronting onto Royal Avenue. I thought that they could redo the old post office, or something lost from Belfast, however the image you have shown was one I saw years ago and thought that it was very fitting. I think that the old classic style is the only kind of architecture that will work in this area. The 'Next' redevelopment on Donegal Place was close to the bone, however they only just got away with it. As for a the Royal Avenue elevation, it is absolutely vital that they get it right, and latest images are far, far away from achieving this and will result in a lost opportunity on doing justice to, what was at one time a true 'Royal Avenue'. Even the wrong paint can destroy a building, that classic corner building fronting Royal Avenue/Garfield corner, has not been painted right for years, currently it is a petrol blue, which does not do it justice. I wait in anticipation. The architect, thankfully is not local and is based in London-I have forgotten the name.
 

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Details can be found about Royal Exchange on one of INGs websites.

Here is the link

http://www.ingrealestate.com/en/property_development/property_development/properties/UK_Belfast__Ireland_Royal_Exchange.jsp?tab=1

The above provides an overview, fact sheet and a gallery of the development.


Chapman Taylor and Hopkins are the development architects.

http://www.chapmantaylor.com/

http://www.hopkins.co.uk

Unfortunately, there appears to be no information regarding Royal Exchange on either Chapman Taylor and Hopkins Websites.
 

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G2GAP

I might be totally wrong about this but I thought that artist's impression made up part of the plans for Donegall Road beside St Anne's (pictured partially on the left?)

Not sure if anything ever moved forward on this.
 

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Surely there is a risk now that with the economy being tanked any development in the near future is going to utilise cheap design and build? If Victoria Sq was being developed now, I'd say the dome would be seen as an expensive decoration and quietely shelved.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The original render of the entrance planned for infront of Castle Court which would have been a complete opposite of that exterior actually looked really good i thought .......



However i think that this has been dramatically scaled down and cheapened. The only good thing is that so far very little material has been released showing the appearance of this scheme. Possibly because nothing has been finalised to any great detail. I remember Victoria Square released an abundance of images even for the original scheme which included Churchill House. The lack of images here hopefully indicates that the final design has not been completed yet. I haven't heard for definate who the main architect will be either. I would say that this year we will definately hear something more definate on this scheme and see some new pics. I hope! Ewarts have been planning this and buying up property for well over 10 years now so they won't be easily put of by the current climate. Especially if they are looking long term to the completion of 2013 when things will likely be much different.
I dont think that is what it looks like any more. William Ewart Development has removed that render of the entrance off there website.

http://www.ewartproperties.com/Ewart-Development-details.aspx?ID=5&n=Royal Exchange
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)


I thought that most of that building already exists and it was just a case of extending the facade to replace some modern buildings beside it. Could be completely wrong though, but they do look quite similer and it does show the building with the cone type roof on Garfield street to the left of the picture

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerryward/2044843868/in/set-72157600469678047/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerryward/2044844492/in/set-72157600469678047/
I think it is all going to be knocked down. That is some of Royal Avenue
 

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If by building this they price the 2nd hand bookshop on North Street out of the market I will be disgusted. I would like to see the council do something about promoting local traders in the face of big corporate brands taking over, though perhaps with such a small city this is inevitable.

The idea of this scheme knocking down some nice buildings on Royal Avenue doesnt sit well with me, but at this stage it isnt entirely certain thats what they are planning.
 

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If by building this they price the 2nd hand bookshop on North Street out of the market I will be disgusted. I would like to see the council do something about promoting local traders in the face of big corporate brands taking over, though perhaps with such a small city this is inevitable.

The idea of this scheme knocking down some nice buildings on Royal Avenue doesnt sit well with me, but at this stage it isnt entirely certain thats what they are planning.
Nice buildings????

They will most likely be demolishing the post 60's shite aka Argos and whatnot and not the other more important structures. Look at the images from Gerry Ward to get a better idea.
 

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At this stage it's only the 'modern temporary crap' Nationwide etc, these buildings are being put on the back of a lorry to be used at some other UK city, maybe Birmingham. If you look at the more recent render, you will see the old classic terrace still intact to the right. The new 'modern temporary' buildings on this more recent render are being brought over from Leeds on the ferry, on the back of several wide load trailers. They put them in the dry dock, give them a wash down, replace the rusty screws, then put them in on Royal Avenue. The funny thing about this process is that its all done without the public knowing and in Leeds they celebrate at the eyesores disappearing from their city, while in Belfast modernists love these new buildings for 3 years 4 months 6 days, then hate them. Real people have always hated them and always will. This process of recycling these 'mobile trailer' office buildings, is good for the environment, but is destroying all our great cities.
 

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Discussion Starter #16




Demolishing it is for the best. Look at all the wasted space behind it
you would be able to have far more shops big and small.
 

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The facades can all be retained, apart from the 3 60's crap buildings near Garfield street end. And what we don't want is another 'castlecourt' 'abbey centre' style souless shoopping centre.
 

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This is a good terrace, it would be very wrong to demolish all of the buildings because Nationwide & the other bank is crap. Argos isnt that bad, though I wouldnt miss it if it was knocked down. The two banks should face the demolition ball, but ONLY if the adjoining buildings are kept. They are ripe for listed status.

I was thinking recently that the facade of Castlecourt is quite good. It's problem is that it turns it back on Royal Avenue. There's only one door into debenhams, and the DHSS shop has blacked out windows. Really think they should move the DHSS and open at least one more door into debenhams. Also, I really like the building above the Haymarket arcade. On reflection Royal Avenue is too nice to deserve it's quiet status.
 

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The Alliance and Leicester building right up to the Nationwide building should be demolished at least their facades restored to a Victorian style.

I agree with the last point that the Castle Court facade isn’t bad but it should be opened up more.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The Alliance and Leicester building right up to the Nationwide building should be demolished at least their facades restored to a Victorian style.

I agree with the last point that the Castle Court facade isn’t bad but it should be opened up more.
Thats a good way of doing it.
The Alliance and Leicester the Nationwide argos building should be demolished.

The outside of Castle Court could do with polishing up a bit
the same way the inside of Castle Court was.

 
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