7th MAY 2020 - Page 15

Business INsight
Plans back on track for train halt beside proposed homes
Gareth McKeown
resurrected plans for a
Lisburn rail halt and park
and ride scheme, which
would serve a proposed
£250 million residential
It has emerged that
Translink has submitted
amended proposals for
development at the former
South Eastern Regional
College off the Knockmore
The plans were first
mooted in 2014, with
Translink stating at the
time that construction
would commence between
late 2015 and early 2016,
subject to funding and
planning permission being
The development never
came to fruition, though,
and the 11.8 acre site has
remained vacant since.
The new proposals for
the rail halt and park
and ride facility were
submitted on November
The plans include 374
car parking spaces, 22 of
which are disabled, with
two electric charging
The Translink
development would be a
crucial asset to the local
area if plans for a 1,300home residential scheme
in the neighbouring
area are given the green
Neptune Carleton, a
joint venture between
UK property developer
Neptune Group and the
landowning Thornton
family, lodged plans in
November for one of
the largest property and
road-build schemes in
Northern Ireland in recent
years, representing a
n ASSET: The rail halt and park and ride scheme would serve a
proposed 1,300-home residential development
£250m investment with
the potential to create
hundreds of jobs.
The proposals include
1,300 three and four-
bedroom homes and
770,000 sq ft of
commercial floorspace,
while it also proposes
a new 1.6 km road and
bridge over the River
Lagan to connect the M1
at Sprucefield to a junction
at Moira Road/Knockmore
Road in the city.
The planned M1Knockmore link road
includes a two-span
bridge over the River
Lagan and is seen as a
key driver to unlocking
the growth of the city at
west Lisburn, facilitating
the development of the
proposed lands at Blaris
and a future link to the
nearby Maze site.
If approved, the
new road will allow
for enhanced vehicle
movement around the
city and enable improved
public transport services
with new circular bus
routes linking the new
neighbourhood to the
park and ride and rail halt
at Knockmore and to the
city’s bus and rail stations.
Coffee chain serves
up third outlet in city
“We need to be
somewhere where
there are people who
will sit and have a
relaxed brunch, but also
somewhere where there
is some sort of lunch
Gareth McKeown
BELFAST coffee shop
chain has opened
its third outlet in
the city on the busy
Lisburn Road.
District has added to its
existing sites on the Ormeau
and Stranmillis roads by taking on the cafe at Bedeck, creating six jobs initially.
Owned by Downpatrick
businessman David Rea and
operated by Bangor hospitality professional Richard Stitt,
District has become a popular
location for the burgeoning
brunch scene in Belfast since
the Ormeau Road branch
opened in October 2016.
The latest outlet opened
last week following a significant investment.
Speaking to The Irish News,
Mr Stitt, whose previous experience includes the likes
of Home Restaurant and the
Mourne Seafood Bar, said
the “feel-good factor” of the
Lisburn Road was an attractive proposition for the
“Bedeck was an opportunity that we had looked at a
couple of times and we were
in a position to move on it
when we did,” he said.
“Bedeck is a good brand
and they’re a good partner for
us here.
“There’s an entrance in
from the shop next door to
us and we do see a good bit
throughput come from there.
“Lisburn Road is an affluent area of Belfast and it’s not
too far away from the other
Richard Stitt
n EXPANSION: District has opened a new outlet on south Belfast’s Lisburn Road
two shops, which is another
Six full-time jobs have been
created at the new District,
three of which have come
from the former Bedeck cafe,
and the company is still
Looking further ahead Mr
Stitt has not ruled out further
expansion in the city.
“We need to be somewhere
where there are people who
will sit and have a relaxed
brunch, but also somewhere
where there is some sort of
lunch trade.
“I’m not quite sure it lends
itself to the city centre to be
honest, but definitely the sub-
urbs [of Belfast] is where we
would see ourselves expanding to, if we do expand.
“The Lisburn Road, Stranmillis, Ormeau, they all have
the same sort of feel to them,
so it would need to be somewhere like that.”
And further afield?
“It’s not beyond the ques-
tion, but right now we’re just
concentrating on making sure
the Lisburn Road works,” Mr
Stitt added.
The expansion at District
comes as it has been confirmed that the Cuban Sandwich Factory is to open its
second restaurant in Belfast
on Botanic Avenue.
The Cuban eatery, housed
in Queen’s Arcade, is to open
a new outlet at the former
Bubbacue premises.
Burger restaurant Tribal
Burger moved into Bubbacue’s other site on Callender
Street in November.
Meanwhile, leading health
food chain Holland & Barrett
has opened a new Belfast
store on the Lisburn Road.
The chain, which has more
than 1,300 stores in 16 countries, opened its latest branch
on Sunday, creating two jobs
in the city.
Holland & Barrett’s Belfast
store manager Hannah Bacon
said: “This is an exciting time
for Belfast and we look forward to welcoming existing
and new customers in store
to share the latest products
and concepts in the health
food, beauty and sports
energy sold
for second
time in five
Gary McDonald
Business Editor
AS supply company Firmus energy has been
sold for the second
time in less than five years.
It has been acquired for an
undisclosed sum by UK infrastructure manager Equitix
from its current owner iCON
Deka Energy, a subsidiary of
iCON and which is registered
in Jersey, bought Antrimbased Firmus in June 2014 for
£78.4 million.
“We look forward to
delivering continued
growth and high quality
customer service under
Equitix’s ownership
Michael Scott
Firmus, established in 2005,
operates a regulated natural
gas distribution network in a
number of major towns and
cities outside greater Belfast,
and boasts 43,000 domestic,
industrial and commercial
end customers.
Its managing director Michael Scott said: “Firmus energy is one of Northern Ireland’s
leading energy companies,
with over 90,000 customers
across our distribution and
supply activities.
“Over the next 25 years
we plan to extend our gas
network to make natural gas
available throughout our licensed area, connecting a further 140,000 customers.
“iCON has been a very supportive partner over the past
five years and we look forward to delivering continued
growth and high quality customer service under Equitix’s
“This is good news for gas
consumers and the Northern
Ireland economy.”
Hugh Crossley, chief investment officer for London-based
Equitix, said: “As we continue
to diversify and grow our
portfolio, we are always looking out for attractive opportunities to acquire high-quality
assets that meet our criteria.
“Gas distribution is a new
sector for Equitix that meets
these criteria and complements the other sectors we invest in well. We are confident
that it will add value for our
“Equitix has demonstrated
a strong track record in our
ownership and management
of a wide range of infrastructure assets and, as such,
we’re pleased to be further
consolidating our capabilities
and adding this breadth and
depth to our institutional investment portfolios.”
Firmus energy employs
more than 100 staff, and its
last set of accounts revealed
that it made a pre-tax profit of
close to £11 million.


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