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 at the time 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 building was never fully completed and was demolished ten years later in July 2019.
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 (Sirocco) Ltd (owned by Gulf Resources Development & Investment, Corbally Group and Graftongate) acquired the Sirocco site in August 2016 (completing in January 2017).
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.
Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd rebranded the development ‘Belfast Waterside’ in November 2017 and introduced a revised site masterplan by Danish architecture 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.
Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd submitted an outline planning application (LA04/2018/0811/O) in March 2018 proposing a mixed use development comprising offices, residential apartments (including affordable), hotel and serviced apartments, retail and professional services, community and cultural, leisure uses, cafes, bars, restaurants, with associated car parking, circulation and servicing arrangements; public realm works, landscaping, replacement of existing pedestrian bridge fixed to railway bridge and associated access works to Short Strand and Bridge End. The application was approved in July 2020.
The outline masterplan comprises office accommodation (c.857,000ft2), Hotel / Serviced Apartments (c.195,900ft2), Residential (675 units / c.688,460ft2), Retail, Community and Leisure (c.103,872ft2) and up to 1,140 parking spaces. The masterplan is spread across 15no. buildings / blocks as below. Areas are GIA and Phasing is sourced from the Outline Planning Consent.
Block A is an eight storey (39.75m) office building comprising c.108,700ft2. Phase 7.
Block B is a ten storey (45.15m) office building comprising c.171250ft2. Phase 7.
Block C is a thirteen storey (56.20m) office building comprising c.317,500ft2. Phase 1.
A full planning application (LA04/2018/0408/F) for Block C was submitted in February 2018 and approved in July 2020.
Block D is a ten storey (48.15m) office building comprising c.155,000. Phase 9.
Block E is an eight storey (36.75m) office building comprising c.102,000ft2. Phase 9.
Block N is a six storey (29.55m) ‘creative cluster’ building comprising c.75,350ft. Phase 4.
A Proposal of Application Notice (LA04/2018/0756/PAN) for the ‘Creative Cluster’ building was submitted in March 2018.
Block F is a five to eight storey (max 31.05m) residential building comprising 171 apartments. Phase 8.
Block G is a six to eight storey (23.35m – 30.75m) residential building comprising 122 apartments. Phase 8.
Block J is a five to eight storey residential building comprising 124 apartments. Phase 5.
A Proposal of Application Notice (LA04/2018/0757/PAN) for Residential Block J was submitted in March 2018.
Block K is a five to seven storey residential building comprising 90 apartments. Phase 3.
A Proposal of Application Notice (LA04/2018/0757/PAN) for Residential Block K was submitted in March 2018.
Blocks L1 & L2 are five to seven storey residential buildings comprising 32 apartments and 77 apartments respectively. Phase 2.
A Proposal of Application Notice (LA04/2018/0757/PAN) for Residential Block L was submitted in March 2018. Block L2 is allocated to Choice Housing Association to be developed as social housing.
Blocks M1 and M2 are five to seven storey residential buildings comprising 27 apartments and 32 apartments respectively. Phase 5.
A Proposal of Application Notice (LA04/2018/0757/PAN) for Residential Block M was submitted in March 2018.
Block H is a six to eight storey (25.45m – 32.25m) hotel / serviced apartment building comprising c.214,000ft2. Phase 6.
The outline masterplan also proposes new public open spaces, including a Riverfront Promenade along the southern edge, a Linear Park linking the south-west and north-east corners of the site, and a Neighbourhood Pocket Park located between Blocks L1 and M2.
An upgraded footbridge is also proposed alongside the existing Lagan Viaduct rail bridge. The existing footbridge will be widened to at least three metres and improved approach ramps will be installed on both sides. The upgraded footbridge is conditioned to be completed prior to the commencement of Phase 3.
Further information on Belfast Waterside can be found at the official website: www.belfastwaterside.co.uk.