Plans lodged for £400m redevelopment project in Belfast

London-based developer submits plans for 11-acre Royal Exchange site


A London-based property company, which bought an 11-acre site in Belfast from vulture fund Cerberus last year, has submitted plans for a £400 million (€450 million) regeneration project in the heart of the city.

Castlebrooke Investments bought what previously had been known as the Royal Exchange site in Belfast for an undisclosed sum last March. Cerberus had acquired the site in 2015 when it paid £205 million to acquire an extensive Ulster Bank loan book in the North. The gross assets bought by Cerberus were estimated to be worth £1.4 billion.

Castlebrooke Investments now wants to develop a new “North East Quarter” in Belfast on the site it bought from Cerberus, which it says would be a 1.4 million square feet retail-led, mixed-use urban regeneration scheme close to the Cathedral Quarter, Castle Court and Victoria Square in the city.

The company has submitted a planning application to Belfast City Council for the regeneration project, which it says will be the “largest ever single redevelopment project” in the city’s history.

According to the privately owned group, it has to date spent £40 million in “acquiring the site, all planning work to date and the initiation of construction”.

Unsuccessful proposals

The former Royal Exchange site has been the subject of various unsuccessful proposed projects for more than 17 years. A previous owner had secured planning permission for a proposed £360 million (€404 million) mixed-use retail and development scheme which had promised to create 3,000 jobs.

Castlebrooke Investments said it believes that up to 6,000 permanent jobs could be potentially created by its new proposal, which includes plans for office, retail, hotel and leisure developments.

It is also predicting that about 900 temporary construction jobs could be created during the development stage of its project.

The London company has pledged that listed and other key local buildings in the area would be preserved and brought back into use under its plans. It has also outlined proposals to create more public and community arts space.

A spokesperson from Castlebrooke said: “The development is the cornerstone of a vibrant new vision for Belfast and it will go a long way to helping the city achieve the targets set out in the council’s ambitious Belfast Agenda.

“Now that the new application is submitted, we intend to give the scheme a new name and initiate an international marketing programme putting Belfast on the list for a large range of new occupiers who are not currently present in the city.”