The sale of a one-time Victorian hospital is a “unique” chance for a new owner to take on one of south Belfast’s last key listed buildings.
The former Shaftesbury Square Hospital sits at the corner of an area known for its busy nightlife close to the bottom of the Lisburn Road.
It was built in 1867 and played host to a number of medical practices down the years.
According to website Future Belfast, the Belfast Ophthalmic Institution “operated from the hospital from construction until relocating to the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1946”.
It was subsequently run by the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority and in 1969 it was renamed Shaftesbury Square Hospital, according to the website.
It’s being sold by Lambert Smith Hampton for an undisclosed price.
And a new buyer should develop any plans in a “sympathetic and appropriate” manner to the period, according to Nikki McVeigh, chief executive of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS).
“The sale of Shaftesbury Square Hospital, by architect WJ Barre, is a unique opportunity to acquire one of a reduced number of historic buildings on Great Victoria Street and Shaftesbury Square,” she said.
“The building is listed due to its architectural and or historical significance, with reference to particular elements such as style, proportion, and quality and survival of interior.
“Listing legislation is in principle there to ensure any future plans for this building are sympathetic and appropriate to these its unique characteristics.
“Listing legislation should guide any new owner. It would be favourable for this building’s setting to see plans include the restoration and repair of additional adjoining Richmond Terrace, some of which has recently been damaged by fire.
“In the interim, every effort should be made on the part of the current owner to ensure that Shaftesbury Square Hospital is monitored and secure.”
The building was closed by the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and was then sold alongside the adjacent 118-120 Great Victoria Street property.
In a brochure, Lambert Smith Hampton says: “The subject property occupies a prominent position fronting Great Victoria Street, linking south Belfast to the city centre.
“... the property comprises the listed former Shaftesbury Square Hospital and two adjoining three-storey former dwellings. All buildings are interconnected internally and set on a site of (around 0.25 acres).”
Meanwhile, nearby, a developer is hoping to restore one of Belfast’s most neglected listed buildings in what used to be among the city’s most exclusive areas.
Upper Crescent off Botanic Avenue became a sought-after address for the professional and business classes after parts of it were completed in 1848.
However, its builder, Robert Corry, had to hoodwink his wife Jane into agreeing to live there.
Neil McCann, of Property Development NI, now wants to turn 14 to 16 Upper Crescent, thought to have been built in 1901, into 21 apartments.
Upper Crescent is believed to be the city’s only curved terrace and is lauded as an example of neo-classical Regency-style architecture.
But 14 to 16 have been derelict for the last few decades and the terrace as a whole has many vacant buildings, apart from housing the headquarters of listed company Kainos plc.
Gavin Rolston, planning director at consultancy firm Clyde Shanks, said the restoration and transformation would be carried out sympathetically and that he was hopeful the application would be approved by Belfast City Council