The Keep

Retail development
Including Leisure, Food & Beverage use

13-25 Castle Lane, BT1 5DA

About The Keep

The site comprises 13-25 Castle Lane, 3-9 Corn Market & 6-18 Castle Arcade, Belfast and has been vacant since British Home Stores (BHS) entered into administration on 25th April 2016. The Keep development proposals includes the re-cladding of the exterior of the building, the creation of a new central core access from Castle Arcade, as well as the demolition of the bridge link over Castle Arcade. It will create a retail and leisure space across the four storey building which includes the sub-division of the ground floor retail floorspace into 4 No. separate retail units and 1 No. café, change of use of all upper floors from retail and ancillary storage to mixed assembly and leisure use and change of use of the rooftop to a sui-generis use for the sale of food and drink.

The development is located close to the original site of the fortified Jacobean castle and the original Belfast Castle which was built in the 17th Century between Cornmarket and the original Linen Hall Street. Prior to the construction of BHS, the site was formerly the home of the Classic Cinema which opened on 24th December 1923. The building also accommodated a cafe and dance hall and featured a classical colonnade along the southern elevation (Castle Lane) with a mixture of blank panels and fenestration between each vertical member. A more active frontage existed along Castle Arcade, on to which the social spaces fronted on multiple levels. 

The Classic was renamed the Gaumont Theatre from 3rd July 1950 and was closed by the Rank Organisation on 30th September 1961. The building was demolished in 1962 to make way for the construction of the BHS department store. British Home Stores occupied the site until closing on 28th August 2016.

The development also incorporates the frontage along Nos. 3 – 9 Cornmarket. The original building on this site was a 4 storey Victorian building which was later replaced with a post-modern brick facade.

In November 2017, M&G Real Estate submitted a planning application (LA04/2017/2681/F) proposing the refurbishment and reconfiguration of the building including installation of new external fabric, new entrances, shopfronts, service access and services connections. This application was approved in June 2018.

Alterity Investments, a privately, locally owned property and investment company, acquired the site in March 2021 with plans to refurbish and reconfigure the 70,000 sq ft site.

In February 2022, Alterity Investments submitted a planning application (LA04/2022/0535/F) proposing to redevelop the existing building to provide retail units on the ground floor, a mix of leisure and hospitality uses on the upper floors and bar/ restaurant use on a rooftop terrace. The plans also include re-cladding the building. The proposals were approved at the 27th June Belfast City Council Planning Committee.

In November 2022, works commenced on The Keep project at Castle Lane.

In February 2023, it was announced that Deichmann, a global footwear retailer, is set to open its first Ireland store at a new leisure and retail scheme in The Keep and will create between 15 – 20 jobs.

In June 2023, it was report that Apple were considering moving it's existing Apple Victoria Square retail store in Belfast to a larger location in The Keep. It was reported by Bloomberg that the new Apple retail store will open in August 2024 in The Keep.

In September 2023, it was confirmed that clothing brand H&M is set to open a new store in The Keep. H&M Group, will open a new 20,000 sq ft unit which will offer its full line of clothing for men, women, teenagers and children across two storey unit in The Keep development.

Project Information


70000 ft²



Planning References

Project Team


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