BBC Talkback – The Tribeca project gets the go-ahead from Belfast City Council’s planning committee, but critics say it’s not in the best interests of the city. The £500m mixed-use plan is heavily weighted towards offices.
Our director, Neil McShane, contributed to the debate.
When asked by William Crawley about the potential future for the office as a concept, Neil said “I believe change is coming as a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown and by the fact that many employers and employees now recognising how effective and efficient working-from-home can be. Many companies now recognise that they can effectively drive-down their occupational costs but, at the same time, accommodate happier employees who will welcome this flexibility. However, it will take a while before we can look at a post mortem of the pandemic”.
When asked if this suggested a big gamble by the Belfast City Council’s planning committee, Neil said “I think there will be an ongoing need for offices but the reality is that any developer would prefer to have 12 months under their belt so that they could start to see a post-covid trend, then being able to make a credible decision based on this”.
When asked if the Tribeca scheme will actually be built, Neil said “If I was the developer, I would certainly be very wary of what we have just been through, particularly with a heavy weighting towards the office sector…but I believe it will happen, perhaps with a revisiting of the weighting towards offices”.
Following the debate, Neil added “This area of Belfast desperately needs regeneration and Castlebrooke [the developer] is not going to develop (anything) if they are not confident that the demand is there”.