The Markets Development Association (MDA) propose to convert the vaulted spaces underneath the East Bridge Street road bridge. The bridge comprises eight full vaults and one half-width vault.
The MDA submitted a planning application (Z/2012/1421/F) in December 2012 proposing to convert and extend the existing archways under East Bridge Street to create a creche, an employment education and training hub, community space, cafe, health and fitness facility and access to the train station. The application was approved in May 2015.
Belfast City Council commissioned PACEC in February 2016 to assess the viability of the project. An expression of interest process was launched in spring 2016 seeking companies and / or organisations interested in occupying the refurbished tunnel units. Over 40
businesses/ organisations expressed an interest in leasing units within the project.
The project has secured capital grants for construction costs, including £1.3m from Belfast City Council’s Belfast Investment Fund and £1.3m from The Executive Office’ Social Investment Fund.
The MDA and Pragma Planning submitted a planning application (LA04/2021/2246/F) in August 2021 proposing to convert the existing unused archways under East Bridge Street to create the following uses in each vaulted space (from West to East):
Vault 1: Office use, managed by the MDA and available for use by the community.
Vaults 2 and 3: Childcare facility / creche, to be run as a social enterprise by the community.
Vaults 4 and 5: Gym and fitness facility, to be run as a social enterprise by the community.
Vaults 6 and 7: Café and restaurant, to be run as a social enterprise by the community.
Vault 8: Pedestrian access.
Vault 9: Storage.
The application also proposes public realm works. A decision is pending.