Posted on Tuesday 25 June 2019 by John Mulgrew

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A former Belfast shopping arcade left derelict after being gutted in a blaze more than a decade ago could be brought back to life amid fresh development plans.

North Street Arcade was destroyed in a fire in 2004, which caused severe damage to the floor and glass roof. It’s been sitting empty for 15 years, but once played host to a range of popular Belfast stores, including DJ and local punk pioneer Terri Hooley’s record shop, Good Vibrations.

The plans to redevelop the arcade are included in a revised scheme called Tribeca Belfast – formerly Royal Exchange. UK developer Castlebrooke is planning to redevelop much of the north side of the city centre as part of a £500m scheme.

It’s made a number of amendments and changes to the development, most notably revising back from a formerly retail-led scheme to one with fewer shops.

Tribeca Belfast includes development around Royal Avenue, Donegall Street, North Street, Garfield Street and High Street. Castlebrooke Investments says it is now committed to bringing North Street Arcade back into use in a new format, with space designed for independent retailers.

It has also been announced that architectural design firm Squire & Partners has been appointed to work on the amended proposals. The team from Squire & Partners will work alongside conservation architects from Belfast-based Consarc Design Group.

Neil Young, chief executive of Castlebrooke Investments, said: “We are very pleased to be able to reveal our proposed amendments to our outline planning application for Tribeca Belfast, changes which we feel demonstrate that we have listened to feedback from the city.

“We will continue to listen and today we have launched a voluntary public consultation process into these planned changes ahead of the submission of our application. Our community exhibition will provide an opportunity for anyone interested to see the new plans and we will be revealing more information about this in the coming weeks.”

Murray Levinson, partner at Squire & Partners, said: The mix of uses across the site – designed to attract a variety of retail, restaurant, cultural and workplace tenants – and the creation of new public realm, will ensure this part of Belfast will be active throughout the day and into the evening. Providing a large number of residential apartments with shared gardens, as well as a hotel, will create a new opportunity for people to live in the city centre.”

And Graeme Moore, specialist conservation architect at Consarc Design Group, said: “Consarc Design Group is delighted that we continue to be involved with the proposals for Tribeca Belfast to offer our expertise in building conservation. As with the previous proposals, all of the listed buildings within this phase are to be retained, restored and adapted for a sustainable ongoing use within the masterplan, rooting the new development in the unique historical character of this part of the city centre.”

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