Plans progress for redevelopment of crumbling Belfast departmental HQ

£25m Stormont scheme would create new facilities for Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association
Dundonald House at Stormont Photo: Hamilton Architects

By Jim Dunton

17 Oct 2023

Updated plans have been lodged for the demolition of a 1960s office building at Stormont that has been the base of Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for decades and also housed the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

The Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association, which occupies a neighbouring site to 12-storey Dundonald House, has commissioned proposals for a £25m “centre of excellence for sport” that would redevelop its own existing facilities and the office block.

NICSSA’s proposals – drawn up by Belfast-based Hamilton Architects – would deliver a new two-storey building with state-of-the-art sports halls, changing rooms and an events space. The site of Dundonald House would be used for new “international standard” sports pitches, according to documents submitted with the proposals.

Additionally, the application seeks approval for a full-size international-standard artificial indoor multi-sport pitch and a half-size multi-sport indoor pitch. The proposals also include two new media boxes for the club’s cricket green.

Dundonald House, which was officially opened in 1963, was one of the first modern office blocks to be completed in Northern Ireland. It was awarded grade-B+ status in 2021, the second-highest level of listed status available.

The building had to be vacated in June after a piece of coping stone fell from its southeast corner and structural investigations revealed more widespread issues.

Documents supporting the NICSSA application said the building was “no longer considered appropriate for office accommodation” because of its current condition and the “substantial investment” that would be required for an appropriate renovation.

“A high-level structural assessment by Tetra Tech concluded that there are inherent defects particularly with the external stone cladding which has become unsafe, ” the design and access statement said. 

Belfast City Council has not given a target decision date for determining NICSSA’s plans.

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