Belfast approves plan for new mixed-use hotel development

In Northern Ireland, UK-based contracting, development, asset management and investment company McAleer & Rushe has received planning consent for a 206-room hotel on the site of the former Belfast Metropolitan College adjacent to Blackstaff Square. The Cookstown-based company acquired the site a little more than a year ago, and reportedly intends to develop the site with a mixed-use hotel and student accommodation property.

Belfast City Council approved plans designed by Belfast-based Consarc Design Group for the 14-story development, which will also include restaurants, bars and meeting and conference space. The site sits within an area known as "The Linen Quarter," which Belfast City Council and other government agencies have targeted for major renovation, with plans including a major upgrade of the urban streetscape. The hotel will have an entrance facing on to Blackstaff Square.

In a design and access statement submitted as part of the proposal, McAleer and Rushe said the hotel would make a "positive contribution" to the city by regenerating the site of an unoccupied building in the city center. The plan, McAleer & Rushe Property Director Stephen Surphlis said, will help the city's lack of hotel supply. "The Belfast leisure market has recovered strongly following the downturn, with figures confirming strong occupancy levels and increasing room rates," he said, noting that the company has received "strong interest" from established hotel operators.

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The demolition of the existing college building is under way, and construction of the new hotel is slated to begin in early 2016.