The proposed Financial Services Campus comprises four buildings ranging in height from 6 to 12 storeys, around a raised central courtyard, and over a basement car park (477 spaces).
A planning application proposing the Financial Services Campus was submitted in November 2009. The application proposed “55,740 m2 gross floorspace of Class B1(a) office and Class A2 financial, professional and other services, together with other mixed ground floor and mezzanine uses (comprising retail (Class A1), community and cultural uses (Class D1), restaurants, bars and cafes – totalling 5,937 m2 gross), basement and deck car parking (583no. spaces), access road, landscaping and ancillary infrastructural works”.
The application was presented to Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee in March 2010 with a recommendation from DoE Planning to approve the scheme. A decision on the application was deferred for further consideration due to concerns that the proposal was contrary to the Department’s policy of restricting large office developments to the city centre area. There was also an objection lodged by a group of 15 property developers, represented by DPP Planning Consultants. Ewart Properties, Prentice Estates, McAleer and Rushe, PBN Holdings Ltd and Jermon Developments among others, objected to the development as the consortium believed; (1) there was sufficient un-let grade A floorspace in Belfast’s main office area to accommodate the proposal; (2) approval of the application would undermine the already weakened market in the city’s main office area; and (3) approval would be directly contrary to current planning policy and guidance and be premature to the draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan.
Following further consideration by the Planning Service’s Management Board it was determined in November 2010 that approval should be granted subject to conditions.