Waterfront Hall to get £29.5m extension

Published Thursday, 30 January 2014
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A £29.5m extension to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast has been announced.

Waterfront Hall to get £29.5m extension
The Waterfront Hall extension plans were unveiled on Thursday morning. (© Presseye)

The two-storey extension will double the size of the conferencing space at the venue, enabling Belfast to compete internationally as a leading convention destination.

The project aims to attract 50,000 conference delegates to the city annually, doubling the current figure.

It is hoped that an average of six national large association conferences will be held there per annum by 2020.

The proposed expansion includes a new entrance at the rear of the venue on the River Lagan, the creation of over 2,000 square metres of exhibition space, banqueting facilities for up to 750 and five breakout rooms each capable of holding 200 people.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced that she had approved £18.5m of funding on Thursday morning.

Funding for the initiative is being provided under the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's Tourism Development Scheme, with £4.1m from its core capital budget and £14.4m from European Regional Development funding through the EU Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Belfast City Council is providing match funding of £11m for the project, which is expected to be completed by December 2015, bringing the total to £29.5m.

The DUP Minister said: "Business tourism has been identified as a key growth area for the economy over the next ten years and this new extension to Belfast Waterfront will ensure our conference facilities are a competitive alternative to the rest of the UK and Europe.

"The benefit of hosting business conferences extends right across the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors."

"When complete, I am sure the fantastic new facilities will leave visitors with a positive lasting impression of Northern Ireland," Minister Foster concluded.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: "This is great news for both tourism and the economy, following on the heels of the newly opened Visit Belfast Welcome Centre.

"It will also provide employment opportunities with up to 400 construction jobs created during the building phase and the contract will include social clauses to provide placement opportunities for the unemployed, apprentices, students and trainees."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
mark in belfast wrote (357 days ago):
Where are all the extra people going to park??? There is no more capacity for parking for events at any venue in the city....There hasn't been for 15 years. It's a joke!
Mark in Belfast wrote (359 days ago):
I agree that this is good for Belfast, great to invest in this sector however I don't think it should come at the cost of ruining the aesthetic of the waterfront in Belfast. The Waterfront Hall is an iconic building in Belfast and needs to maintain its position as such, crowding the site (as has already been done) will take away from this skyline and it will end up looking a mess with the various architectural styles. Disappointed the planners don't think about this and how this ultimately affects the image and the brand that Belfast has been building over the last few years.
Linda in Lisburn wrote (359 days ago):
Think the money could be better spent on keeping the accident and emergency opened in a couple of hospitals that recently had to cut their hours.
Michael Monaghan in Belfast wrote (360 days ago):
Good for belfast - lots of jobs created in the construction industry .. Has to be welcomed ..
John l in Belfast wrote (360 days ago):
What a waste of money. Why expand it? Aready no-ones using it.
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