Posted on Friday 26 October 2018 by John Mulgrew

Primark 2

The green light has been given to begin work on the Bank Buildings in Belfast which were gutted in a fire – leading to a huge cordon hitting city centre retail.

Belfast City Council’s planning committee approved Primark’s listed building consent application for the Bank Buildings.

It means the conservation-led works to take down the top two floors of Bank Buildings can now begin.

“Once these unstable elements are removed, works can take place to install a facade retention scheme,” the council said.

“It will also make it possible to reduce the cordon and restore pedestrian access between Royal Avenue and Donegall Place, subject to health and safety considerations as work takes place.”

It also means Primark will be able to open up once again, at the building’s new extension.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), said:

"This is terrific news for Primark and for the retail hub of Belfast City Centre. Now that planning has been granted they can start the work to bring down the facade and put up the protection that will allow the cordon to reduce and for stores within the cordon to open.

“This will be a life line for those traders in the cordon and those without who have seen their footfall drop by over 50%. We also welcome the news that Primark will open again soon as it will serve as a footfall draw to this part of the city which has been devastated. We now look the Chancellor and his budget next week to see if central government will step up to support the city centre.”

The latest footfall figures from the NIRC showed footfall across the city was down by more than 30% in September.

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