On March 27th 2006, the Minister of Social Development, David Hanson, announced the Ewart Consortium to be the successful developer for the North East Quarter of Belfast, now referred to as Royal Exchange. There had been a rival development of the North West Quarter around the CastleCourt area.
After years of uncertainty, speculation and negotiation, it was then thought that Belfast city centre would forge ahead with this £300m development and transform the heart of the city.
Atchinson Ewart comments on his winning proposals and the influence the ‘Let’s Get it Right’ local campaign group had on his revising the plans, resulting in much of the area retaining its uniqueness and historic value. Rita Harkin of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, Ben Rainford of ING Real Estate, (part of the Ewart consortium), Gerald Steinberg, President of the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Lord Mayor, Cllr. Wallace Brown express their views on this the development.
The Minister also responds to criticism that the planning department needs an urgent overhaul to respond to development in Belfast.
The property developers did not survive the 2008 financial crash.