A 16 acre former industrial site located at Short Strand and adjacent to Bridge End and the River Lagan. The Sirocco Ropeworks (at one time the largest rope manufacturer in the world) was located on the site for many years. In 1881 Samuel Davidson, one of the founding partners of Howden set up his business from the site, eventually creating Howden Sirocco. Production of fans and heat exchangers began and a close working relationship evolved with Harland & Wolff on the fitting out of ships. Production moved overseas in 1999 and the site was sold for redevelopment.
Dunloe Ewart (Ewart Properties) purchased the site from Howden Sirocco in 2000 for £23m. Full demolition of the site was completed in 2006 and Ewarts proposed to develop 129,000ft2 of office space, 98no. apartments, a 90,000ft2 retail store and 50,000ft2 of additional retail space.
Ewart Properties sold the Sirocco site for £40m to the Carvill Group during late 2006. The price per acre set a record for Northern Ireland despite planning permission only in place for 3 acres of the 16 acre site.
The Carvill Group appointed Llewelyn Davies Yeang to prepare a masterplan for the full site in October 2006. An outline planning application (Z/2008/0599/O) based on this masterplan was submitted to DoE Planning in March 2008. The outline proposal comprised 2,400 apartments (175,600m2), 4 star hotel (5,000m2), supermarket and additional retail space (15,500m2), commercial space (10,600m2), leisure facilities (430m2), care home (2,000m2), doctors surgery and 1,770 basement parking spaces. The outline masterplan proposed a phases approach comprising 10 blocks.
Full planning applications for the first three phased blocks were submitted in April 2008. Block 1 (Z/2008/0829/F), designed by Richards Partington Architects, proposed 386 apartments, residents gym (605m2), supermarket (8,163m2), retail unit (170m2) community facilities (125m2) and 411 basement parking spaces. Block 2 (Z/2008/0830/F), designed by Todd Architects, proposed 294 apartments, four office units, one retail unit, a care home (2,000m2) and 187 basement parking spaces. Block 3 (Z/2008/0832/F), designed by HPA Architecture, proposed 253 apartments, two office units, four retail units and 190 basement parking spaces.
Construction of a three storey marketing suite (to contain temporary show apartments for perspective purchasers) began in February 2009 and was completed in October 2009.
The outline planning application (Z/2008/0599/O) for the Sirocco Quays masterplan was approved by DoE Planning in March 2011, however The Carvill Group entered into administration in May 2011. The three full applications (Z/2008/0829/F, Z/2008/0830/F, Z/2008/0832/F) for Blocks 1 – 3 had not been determined and in October 2011 they were withdrawn.
RBS Capital Resolution (Ulster Bank) announced in May 2015 that a portfolio of property loans, including loans related to the Sirocco site, had been purchased by an entity affiliated with Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus is the US investment fund that purchased Nama’s Northern Ireland property portfolio in 2014.
Swinford revealed revised proposals for the Sirocco site in March 2017 comprising a mix of uses, including: office (69,000m2), residential (815 units), hotel (375 beds), apart-hotel (120 beds), restaurant, cafe and local retail and basement and multi-storey car-parking. Areas of new public realm and a pedestrian bridge connecting Lanyon Place to the site are also proposed. The scheme was designed by Broadway Malyan Architects and public information events took place during April/May 2017.
Belfast City Council appointed Arup during 2016 to prepare a Development Strategy for the Sirocco site, Queen’s Quay and the ‘Shatter Zone’ (collectively referred to as the East Bank). A draft report was open for public consultation between July – September 2017. The final report was published in 2018.
Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd rebranded the development ‘Belfast Waterside’ in November 2017 and introduced a revised site masterplan by Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen. The revised £400m scheme comprises residential (750 units), office (80,000m2), hotel and serviced apartments (18,500m2), restaurants, cafes, local retail, community space and public open spaces.
The proposed first phase of the project comprises a £50m office building (250,000ft2). A planning application (LA04/2018/0408/F) for the 13 storey office building was submitted in February 2018 and recommended approval at the August 2018 meeting of Belfast’s Planning Committee. Construction is expected to commence during 2019.
A press release issued in April 2018 confirmed that the Belfast Waterside masterplan application has been submitted by Vanguard Real Estate. The masterplan comprises residential (750 units), office (80,000m2), hotel and serviced apartments (18,500m2), restaurants, cafes, local retail, community space, public open spaces and a bridge connecting Lanyon Place to the site.
In addition, a proposal of application notice has been submitted for the first phase of residential development, comprising 450no. apartments, and a 7,000m2 ‘plug and play’ space; a creative cluster building.
Further information on Belfast Waterside, including consultation details, can be found at the official website: www.belfastwaterside.co.uk.