Bedford Square phase 2 is a proposed 200,000ft2 office development designed by Todd Architects for McAleer & Rushe. The scheme comprises refurbishment and extension of the listed Ewarts warehouse building for office accommodation. A two storey link bridge will connect to a new-build 17 storey building comprising basement car parking, ground floor retail and office accommodation above.
The site currently comprises a vacant four-storey sandstone warehouse building (known as Ewarts warehouse). It was designed by James Hamilton for the Bedford Street Weaving Company. McCreary & Morgan commenced construction in September 1869 and completed the following year in 1870. The building was extended by James Ewart in 1883 along Franklin Street and to the rear by Samuel Stevenson in 1937. The extension was later demolished in 1990. Taller red brick warehouses and weaving sheds to the rear of the building were also demolished in 1990.
Bedford Street Developments (a joint venture between McAleer & Rushe and Ewart Properties) submitted a planning application (Z/2005/2567/F) in December 2005 proposing to develop a 26-storey building adjacent Ewart’s warehouse, with basement car parking and new civic square. The application was approved in June 2007. Bedford Street Properties also submitted a planning application (Z/2006/2325/F) in October 2006 proposing to restore, extend and convert the vacant Ewart’s warehouse building into a 70no. bedroom hotel with ground floor retail unit. The application was approved in August 2008. Neither scheme proceeded.
Bedford Street Enterprises (a company linked to McAleer & Rushe) submitted planning applications (LA04/2015/0264/F & LA04/2015/0094/LBC) in April 2015 proposing to alter, refurbish and extend the vacant Ewart’s warehouse building for office accommodation and develop a 15 storey office building with ground floor retail unit and basement car parking on the adjacent land.
A Conservation Statement (April 2015) prepared by Consarc Conservation for the applicant concluded that “the extent of structural defects is such that comprehensive underpinning of the main facade walls is important for them to survive. The cost of such extensive works is prohibitive, if not impractical, if either the existing internal structure was to be kept or removed and reinstated.”
NIEA HED appointed Mann Williams Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers to carry out a structural review of the building and examine the documents submitted. The Mann Williams report (April 2016) concluded that “demolition of the building for reasons of structural deficiencies is considered unsubstantiated, and from our survey there is significant evidence to demonstrate the existence of a very robust building capable of refurbishment.”
NIEA HED issued a letter (May 2016) stating that the proposal for a facade retention scheme was contrary to policy and concluded that “…there is considered to be no justification for the substantial demolition of the Ewart Building on the basis of significant structural failures, weaknesses or deficiencies. In its current structural condition the building is considered to be well suited to repair and restoration.”
The planning applications were amended in June 2016. The revised proposals comprise refurbishment and extension of the Ewarts Warehouse Building to provide office accommodation. The building’s elevation to Bedford Street and Franklin Street will be retained along with the domed corner tower, floor structures, internal cast iron columns and feature staircase. A four storey extension is proposed with a two storey bridge link to a proposed new-build office building adjacent. The new building comprises basement car parking, ground floor retail space and 16no. office floors above. The revised proposal was approved in April 2017.
According to the first project newsletter issued by McAleer & Rushe the remedial works within the existing listed building have commenced. This work is to prepare for the underpinning / piling works that are due to commence in October 2018.