A four-storey red brick former warehouse building designed by Watt Tulloch & Fitzsimons in 1911 for Swanston’s Linen Company.
Lacuna WJ Ltd (Lacuna Developments & Watkin Jones Group) acquired the building along with no.24 College Street and 29 Wellington Place and submitted a planning application (LA04/2015/1252/F) in October 2015 proposing to develop purpose built managed student accommodation known as Swanston Hall.
The development includes the retention of the existing facades of 41-49 Queen Street, 24 College Street and 29 Wellington Place and demolition of buildings behind. The proposed building is 5 storeys behind the Wellington Place facade, 7 storeys behind the Queen Street facade and 14 storeys in a setback tower.
The scheme comprises 114no. studios and 203no. cluster rooms (317 total), ground floor retail unit at Queen Street, common room, management suite, reception, laundry room, cycle store, plant room and bin storage area.
Historic elements from within the existing former linen warehouse at Queen Street are proposed to be removed during demolition / facade retention and re-fitted within the new ground floor common rooms.
The application was approved by Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee in May 2016, subject to conditions.
Eastwood Demolition commenced demolition works on 28th August 2016. O’Hare & McGovern are the main contractor. Completion is expected by August 2018.
The development was sold in a ‘forward funding’ deal to an investment company during late 2016.
Previously Poposed Redevelopment (2008 – 2014)
Carlisle Property Developments Ltd and Blamphin + Associates submitted a planning application (Z/2008/1256/F) in June 2008 proposing to demolish the existing building and develop a nine storey residential building comprising 69 apartments and two ground floor retail units. The application was approved on 29th June 2009.
The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) challenged the decision by Judicial Review and the decision to approve was quashed on 8th January 2010. Carlisle Property Developments Ltd submitted an amended proposal in June 2010. The revised scheme proposed 58 apartments and two ground floor retail units. DoE Planning’s Development Control Group proposed that the application be presented to Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee with a recommendation to approve. No agreement was reached at the Council’s Planning Committee meeting on 2nd June 2011.
The UAHS and Forum for Alternative Belfast submitted a document outlining a proposed alternative scheme to Carlisle Property Developments Ltd and the Department of the Environment in July 2011. The proposal, comprising 50 apartments, 3 ground floor retail units and 25 parking spaces, would involve facade retention with a concrete framed structure behind and two additional storeys clad in copper projecting above the original building.
DoE planning issued a decision to approve Carlisle Property Developments Ltd’s planning application in April 2012. A press release stated that the Environment Minister exhaustively considered options to save the existing building although he was “mindful of the risky state of the building, the unhealthy state of the property market and the disproportionate and uneconomic costs to even save the facade”.
The UAHS again sought Judicial Review and were granted permission to challenge the decision on the grounds that the DoE ignored the advice of its Conservation Officer, Area Architect and Case Officer that the development would cause harm to the conservation area, and that undue weight was given to economic considerations. The hearing took place in 2013 and Mr Justice Treacy issued his judgement on 7th February 2014. He ruled that the Department of the Environment failed to properly consider a policy presumption in favour of retaining buildings in conservation areas.
The building was later acquired by Lacuna WJ Ltd and is currently being developed for student accommodation.