Work has finally begun on a large mixed-use scheme in a conservation area in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter following two years of planning delays.

Turnus, a joint venture between Belfast regeneration specialist CUSP and Coleraine-based construction company the Kennedy Group, has received its final Green paper from the Northern Ireland Plannign Service approving its £80m St Anne’s Cathedral scheme in Belfast.

The mixed-use scheme comprise 30,000 sq ft (2,790 sq m) of retail, 20,000 sq ft (1,860 sq m) of offices, 103 residential apartments, and a 550-space multi storey car park. Northern Ireland’s first Encore by Ramada Hotel will anchor one corner of the scheme and will overlook the 14,000 sq ft (1,300 sq m) public piazza with space for performing arts and events. It will also include a Department of Culture, Arts and Lesiure and Arts Council of Northern Ireland-backed development of the Old Museum Arts Centre’s £14m theatre, offices and restaurant. The design is part of an international architect’s competition which will be announced in June this year. It will take two years to construct.

CUSP chairman Shamus Jennings said: ‘The importance of this site in a conservation area has called for extremely exacting plans, sensitive both to the distinctive character of the area and in sympathy with the Cathedral’s architecture.’