Green councillor Áine Groogan was speaking after the announcement of Primark’s return to the building later this year “It is welcome that after four years the historic bank buildings will reopen again after the catastrophic fire which gutted the building in 2018.”

Cllr Groogan continued “This listed building has huge architectural & historical significance and I'm pleased that Primark have invested in and took so much effort to ensure its reinstatement. Our built heritage is precious and I'm glad that Primark have shown their commitment to doing what they can to protect it, even after such a catastrophic fire.

It shows what is possible and I hope that we can use this example to do better elsewhere across our city centre, where we have already seen so much of our built heritage lost to neglect, unauthorised demolition & poor planning.

I also hope that the reopening of the Bank Buildings will help in revitalising our city centre, though we must do more to adapt to the changing high street after all the recent economic shocks.

Belfast grasped the challenge after the bank building fire with the pedestrianisation of royal avenue, pop-up parks and other significant interventions which contributed to getting people back into our city centre. We have seen that these moves can work, and we know that if you create a more vibrant city centre that is awash with an arts & culture offering, this can also drive footfall.”

“We have also seen significant moves towards inner city active travel and sustainability in other major cities in Europe, but Belfast has lagged behind. We know the challenges of the future will exert more pressure on our high street, Belfast needs better greener solutions to address these difficulties.”