Retail Property - Belfast scheme gets green light

Multi Development Corporation's 45,000 sq m Victoria Square development in Belfast has been given the go-ahead from the Government.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Angela Smith approved the scheme, which also includes offices, leisure, catering, residential and civic/cultural plans.

'In my opinion it is appropriate to approve this major city centre retail-led planning application on behalf of Multi Development Corporation,' she said.

The scheme includes more than 50,000 sq m of retail space, anchored by an 18,500 sq m House of Fraser department store. In addition, a health club, apartments, library, gastrodome, restaurant, pub and car parking.

The project totals 75,000 sq m.

The earliest opening date for the Victoria Square development is likely to be 2006.

Smith said that in approving the project, she had regard to competing applications, including Westfield Shoppingtowns' extension to Castlecourt and a new application from Brunswick. The developer has submitted plans for a mixed scheme on the eastern side of Royal Avenue comprising 19,300 sq m of retail, 5,400 sq m of offices and 18 flats.

However, Dunloe Ewart is understood to have abandoned plans for a major retail development off Cathedral Way.