Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission to pursue a £2m project to renovate a former Belfast church into a bar.
Plans to redevelop the Methodist Church on Belfast’s University Road were initially lodged three years previously, marking significant progress in the project.
The listed building has sustained water damage and its organ and pews have already been removed. The Church has retained its original features including wrought ironwork, stone carvings and joinery.
Chairman of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph stating: “I’m delighted – it’s a great building and it will make a wonderful pub. It’s a very big investment by us, it’ll cost around £2m just in the development phase.
“We hope it will create around 60-70 jobs and become a catalyst for other investment in that area.”
Mr Martin, previously cautioned about the deteriorating condition of the building.
This development now joins the chain’s other new Belfast project, the former JJB Sports store located on Royal Avenue that is awaiting a drinks’ licence. Ulster Architectural Heritage Society chief executive, Nikki McVeigh, highlights: “Previous plans proposed the demolition of the adjoining historic church halls. These are complementary to the setting of the listed building, and we are pleased these have now been incorporated into future use.
“The recently approved application has been in progress since 2014. Given the time it has taken to obtain permission, with regard to the building’s current state of repair, it is now of urgent importance that restoration proceeds, as soon as possible.”