Royal Exchange: Attwood due to approve Belfast city centre plan

Plans for a multi-million pound development in Belfast city centre are due to get the green light later.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood is expected to approve the Royal Exchange project, which aims to redevelop an area between Royal Avenue and the Cathedral Quarter.

The scheme was first announced by the government in 2006.

It aims to regenerate run-down and semi-derelict parts of the city centre.

The area between Donegall Street and Royal Avenue takes in the historic North Street Arcade, which was burnt down in 2004.

A planning application for the development was finally submitted in October 2010.

The plans for the development include more than 200 apartments, a hotel, an arts centre, car parks and retail units.

The Royal Exchange project is one of the biggest applications to come before planners in Northern Ireland.

The company behind the plan, Leaside Investments, is a consortium of two Northern Ireland firms, William Ewart and Snoddons, and Dutch firm ING.

Given the depressed state of the Northern Ireland property market, it is unclear when building work on the project will get underway.