Bank Buildings fire: update for businesses
Support and guidance for Belfast city centre businesses affected by the fire
Northern Ireland executive departments are continuing to work with public sector organisations and bodies to support Belfast city centre traders affected by the Bank Buildings fire.
They are offering a range of support, including:
- assistance with rates
- support clinics for affected employers and staff
- marketing campaign to bring shoppers back to the area
- measures to ease access to and traffic around the area
Land & Property Services (LPS) is encouraging businesses affected by the fire to contact them directly to see what support may be available. LPS has indicated that:
- they have removed all business rates liability from the 17 premises inside the cordon with effect from the date of the fire
- they have removed Bank Buildings (Primark) from the Valuation List
- for businesses affected by the fire, LPS will not at this stage seek to recover rates outstanding for periods prior to the fire
- other properties will have zero rates liability if they can't be occupied on health and safety grounds
LPS is also happy to discuss extended rate payment arrangements to help with any cash flow difficulties or work with businesses for any applications under the Hardship Rate Relief Scheme.
For employers and employees who may be affected by the aftermath of the fire, the Department for Communities and Belfast City Council will provide dedicated clinics offering relevant help and advice.
The Department for Communities is also contributing £50,000 to marketing and promotion campaign led by Visit Belfast to attract people into the city centre for shopping and leisure.
Access and traffic flow
The Department for Infrastructure has produced an action plan to ease access for businesses in the city centre, including for loading. They have advised local traders of the changes, taking account of the closure of Castle Place and modifying the existing traffic priorities in Berry Street, Bank Square, Fountain Street and College Street. The department will continue to respond positively to requests from traders to ease access problems.
To help traffic flow, Bank Square serves as a temporary route through the city centre and measures are in place in North Street to ease the movement of re-routed buses. Translink will continue to review its services in consultation with stakeholders.