Royal Exchange - Cathedral Quarter

Retail–led Royal Exchange:  At What Price To The City’s Heritage?


We continue to work with groups in the Cathedral and City Centre Conservation Areas to encourage heritage and culture–led regeneration in the birthplace of the city and are represented on the DSD sponsored Cathedral Quarter Steering Group.

The DSD backed ‘Royal Exchange’ retail–led scheme was advertised at the start of December. It involves a massive amount of demolition of good buildings, including late 19th century, inter–war and post–war structures and the complete loss of the interior (i.e. arcade) of the unusual 1930s North Street arcade by Cowser and Smyth. The unique structure was badly damaged as a result of an arson attack in April 2004.  Original plans unearthed by the Society and a full photographic study of the building by Mervyn Smyth of Belfast Exposed would allow accurate reinstatement. 

We are working with the Forum for Alternative Belfast, Belfast Civic Trust, Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust, Belfast City Centre Management’s Character and Style Action Group, students and other groups to highlight the impact of the scheme on the built heritage and to lobby to retain the historic buildings which are central to forming the character of the birthplace of the city.  It is this distinctive character which will provide the foundation for the successful long–term regeneration of this unique part of the city.

Our buildings at risk beer mat aimed to raise awareness of the potential of the important stock of empty historic buildings within the area.



  • Please contact us if you wish to get involved in this campaign.
  • You can register your views by writing to: Belfast City Council, Belfast Planning Service, Cecil Ward Bouilding,4-10 Linenhall Street, Belfast.
  • Email quoting the reference Z/2011/1532/F

Contact UAHS
The Old Museum Building
7 College Square North

T 028 9055 0213   

Supported by

Heritage Lottery Fund Historic Environment Fund

NI Charity Commission No: NIC101510

Company Reg No. NI 35582