A £300 million redevelopment in the heart of Belfast, masterminded by Chapman Taylor and Hopkins Architects, has been given the official thumbs up.
Yesterday Northern Ireland's Social Development Minister David Hanson chose to back the Royal Exchange project ahead of a rival scheme on another city-centre site.
The new retail-led development, which has been dreamed up by Ewart Properties and ING Real Estate Development UK, will stretch between the Royal Avenue and Donegall Street.
It is hoped the 75,000m 2
scheme will open up the city centre to the up-coming Cathedral Quarter and will feature a number of high-profile 'anchor' stores.
Ben Rainford, managing director of ING, said: 'Royal Exchange will revitalise the area with a mix of contemporary uses and public squares for the benefit of the whole of Belfast.
'The scheme importantly integrates the Cathedral Quarter and the other key parts of the city centre together into one linked and vibrant whole.'
The development is due to open in 2011. by Richard Waite