Plans submitted for first phase of £400million Belfast Waterside development

CGI of the proposed Belfast Waterside development. Image © ELEMENT.

The £400m regeneration of Belfast Waterside, the site of the former Sirocco Works, has taken a significant step forward with the submission of a detailed planning application for a 250,000 sq ft Grade A office development by Vanguard Real Estate.

When complete, the initial £50m investment will deliver the first major employment activity on this prime Belfast city centre site in more than twenty years.

The planning application has been submitted by Vanguard Real Estate – the well-financed development arm behind Swinford (Sirocco) Ltd – as the first phase of a transformational mixed-use masterplan designed by the award-winning Danish architects and master-planners Henning Larsen. Belfast Waterside will encompass a mix of corporate office occupiers and city residents alongside an eclectic range of media, performance and digital activities all living, working and playing on the same campus.

Vanguard’s innovative, occupier-focused approach to design and construction will deliver modern, flexible, and well-connected office space to satisfy significant pent-up occupier demand for flexible Grade A space in Belfast city centre.

Jim Osborne, Director, Vanguard Real Estate, said:

“Following consultation with Belfast City Council planners and the local community we are pleased to begin the process of major transformation at Belfast Waterside, creating a new living, leisure and commercial quarter within the city centre.

“We are seeking to set a new benchmark for office space suitable for premium corporate occupiers. Recent reporting has indicated that Northern Ireland continues to attract FDI occupiers but an ongoing lack of quality supply is holding back office rental growth; recent analysis from CBRE outlines that Grade A office space remains in high demand from FDI and local companies. We engaged with several prominent office requirements at the earliest opportunity as part of our innovative approach to providing frictionless solutions for tenants and talks are progressing well.”

The Grade A office proposals have been submitted as Phase 1 of wider plans to redevelop the largest brownfield city centre site in Belfast into a riverfront destination. The office accommodation building will be the first step in creating modern workspace for 11.5% of the 46,000 new jobs that Belfast City Council is seeking to create by 2035.

Jim Osborne added: “This office application is our first step in realising our ambition. By 2020 there will be a thriving Business and Creative Quarter, as Belfast Waterside emerges as a highly successful mixed-use regeneration scheme, including offices, a hotel, serviced apartments, residential units for sale and rent, affordable, social housing and significant retail and leisure space. The residential and co-working elements of the scheme will be brought forward in the coming months, together with proposals for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge.

“Once completed, the £400 million investment will reconnect this important city centre site to the rest of the city, and provide 1.7 million sq ft of mixed use development. A pre-application notification for residential development and co-working space – a new concept for Belfast – will soon be submitted to Belfast City Council as part of our wider plans to develop the rest of the Waterside site.

“We are proud to be part of the Belfast delegation attending MIPIM next month to showcase the project, Belfast and its many attributes, including its talented and highly-skilled workforce.”

Vanguard is formed of Gulf Resources Development & Investment (GRDI), Graftongate Developments, and The Corbally Group – and brings an international development track-record having collectively delivered c£2 billion of property projects globally.

The joint venture has delivered a 1.1 million sq ft IKEA distribution centre in Dubai and has recently acquired another of the UK’s best development sites with plans for a prime office-led scheme progressing.

The detail planning application and public consultation has been undertaken and submitted on behalf of Vanguard Real Estate by planning consultants Turley, and project managers AECOM.