Belfast City Centre is “thriving” says Finance Minister

Belfast has a vibrant property investment market attracting many of the major UK and Irish investors and is outperforming other key retail centres in Britain, according to the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Dr Seán Farren.

Speaking to an audience of property professionals at the launch of the Belfast Retail Market Report 2002 on Thursday evening the Finance Minister said Belfast City Centre was “thriving”.

The Retail Market Report, by the Valuation & Lands Agency, shows that Belfast is now strides ahead of some of the major important retail centres in the UK such as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol with total returns in 2001 achieving 8.1% against a UK average of 3.9%.

The report found evidence suggesting that rents for prime shops in Belfast city centre is likely to increase and achieve new record levels in 2002.

Dr Farren said: “Belfast retail property continues to be very much in demand by investors. Leading estate agents agree that yields of 5 – 6 per cent could be expected for prime retail locations at the present time.”

Despite evidence of strong rental growth at Royal Avenue and the Castlecourt Shopping Centre, the report indicates that the prime retail pitch in Belfast continues to be Donegall Place with the notable redevelopment of the former C&A site providing the opportunity for WH Smith to gain a high profile first foothold in Northern Ireland.

The report also shows that generally the last year has been very active as regards occupier demand and, as well as boosting rental levels, this has had the effect of further strengthening the north/south axis of the main shopping area in the city.

The Valuation & Lands Agency, which is part of the Department of Finance and Personnel, produced the first Belfast Retail Market Report in 1989.

The report provides authoritative, unbiased opinion together with a large amount of statistical information on the current state of the market.


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