Fire cordon in Belfast set to be reduced if Primark application approved

An extensive safety cordon around the Bank Buildings in Belfast is set to be reduced if a listed buildings consent application is passed on Friday.

The historic building, which housed Primark, was left a charred shell after a major fire in August.

A cordon has been extended around the perimeter, leaving 14 businesses unable to trade.

Earlier this month it emerged that the fire which devastated the front section of the building caused a 30% drop in footfall in the city centre.

A council report has found a reduction of almost 50% in some areas close to Bank Buildings.

Primark has submitted a listed buildings consent application outlining its plans to restore it.

The council’s planning committee is set to meet on Friday to consider the application.

A report by the planning officer has made a recommendation that consent be given, subject to conditions.

The application from Primark seeks consent for conservation-led works involving the taking down, recording and assessment of Bank Buildings above the fourth floor, including six chimneys – the most unstable parts of the building.

In a statement, the council said that undertaking this work will allow efforts to make the remainder of the building safe to start.

This is expected to enable the shrinking of the cordon, and the restoration of access between Royal Avenue and Donegall Place.

Belfast fire
Belfast fire

Councillor Matt Garrett, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said they expect work to begin as soon as possible after consent has been given.

“We recognise the urgency for businesses, both inside and outside the cordon, to ensure their economic resilience in the run-up to Christmas and beyond,” he said.

“As such, council has stated in its conditions of consent that it expects Primark to begin works as soon as practically possible, following the issue of this consent.

“While the cordon is absolutely necessary to ensure the health and safety of the public, we are conscious of the significant impact it is having on trade, and so we will continue to work with Primark to move forward and ensure the required works are completed as soon as possible.”