Wetherspoon ends Belfast super pub offer

Gary McDonald Editor-in-Chief

April 14, 2022 01:00

PUBS chain JD Wetherspoon has finally ended its years-long battle to open a super pub in Belfast city centre.

In 2014, he bought the former four-storey premises of JJB Sports on Royal Avenue, next to the CastleCourt shopping centre.

At the time, he said he hoped to benefit from the influx of 15,000 students expected to flock to the area when the new Ulster University campus opens, originally in 2017 but postponed to later this year.

But it has now emerged that the chain, founded in 1979 by Co Derry-born Tim Martin, has hired estate agents Lambert Smith Hampton to sell it and another high-profile building in Belfast, the former Methodist Church on University Road in the south of the city, which Wetherspoon also acquired eight years ago.

Both properties are being sold with the benefit of vacant tenure, with both being marketed for their “excellent redevelopment potential”.

The Royal Avenue building, with a total floor area of ​​12,306 square feet and a spacious rear courtyard, will have an asking price of £850,000.

Meanwhile, the 9,260 square foot University Road/Fountainville Avenue church, a short distance from Queen’s University, is seeking offers of £750,000 or more.

The last planning permit was granted in 2017 for a change of use from a place of worship to a public establishment. The previous authorisation, now void, was granted in 2008 for the change of use to offices and the demolition of adjoining buildings and their replacement by 31 studios.

Jonathan Martin, Principal of Lambert Smith Hampton, said, “These properties are prominently located in parts of the city that have continued to benefit from substantial development and regeneration over recent years.

“Both are strategically located, close to the city’s university campuses, and both have significant redevelopment potential. We therefore expect the properties to appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Planning had been done for both sites to be turned into public houses, although the location and scale of the two properties means they will be suitable for a wide range of other uses.