A guide to serviced offices and office space for rent in Belfast as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.
Belfast and Northern Ireland
Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and the driving force behind the bulk of the region’s economic activity. The origins of the city extend several thousand years into antiquity, while its more recent history has encompassed periods of significant growth as well as eras of notable stagnation and decline.
Goods have been heading to and from the city’s docks on a significant scale since at least the 18th century and a strong presence in a number of major industries soon established Belfast one of the busiest and most important ports in Europe.
Much of what the city became and how it remains to this day is based on the boom years of the industrial revolution, which saw it earn a reputation as one of the foremost ship-builders anywhere in the world and an absolute powerhouse when it came to linen exports and production.
The population of the urban area beneath the mountains to the north and the sea to the east swelled dramatically during this period and for a brief period at the end of the 19th century Belfast was the most economically active city in Ireland, taking precedence even over Dublin, its neighbour and rival to the south.
For several decades, the city maintained a proud ship-building tradition, despite the unfortunate demise of one of its greatest achievements, namely, the construction of the ill-fated RMS Titanic in 1912. With the same major companies to the forefront, Belfast shifted much of its attention from ship-building to aircraft construction as the 20th century wore on.
These efforts, however, could not prevent the decline of the city’s economy in the second half of the century, which was not helped by the large-scale destruction it suffered during Belfast Blitz of World War II, or by the Troubles, which have divided local communities along religious lines for many years.
Since the ceasefire
Since the signing of a comprehensive ceasefire deal between warring parties and the Good Friday Agreement, which effectively signalled the end of the Troubles in the late 1990s, the people of Belfast have been better able to work towards a brighter collective future.
As evidenced by the past decade in which there has been dramatic growth in the eocnomy of Northern Ireland and large-scale investment in Belfast,which has been at the heart of the region’s recovery.
Response to the downturn
The scale of investment and the rate of redevelopment in Belfast prior to the economic downturn was unprecedented and though the pace of change has slowed in recent months, there is still plenty of activity on-going across the city. In fact, close to half a billion pounds worth of new developments were opened last year and the £1 billion regeneration of the so-called ‘Titanic Quarter’ continues apace.
The main landmarks of Belfast pay testament to both its recent history and to its time as a major industrial city. Two primary examples of this dual architectural basis are the City Hall building, which was established in an Edwardian style soon after city status was officially granted back in the late 1800s and the iconic Waterfront Hall, built at a cost of tens of millions of pounds in the 1980s.
Elsewhere in the city, remnants of the Ulster Plantation era can be found along the narrow alleyways of the Entries, while the recently-completed Obel Tower is now the tallest building on the Irish mainland.
The Tower sits on the Belfast waterfront and 50,000 sq ft of grade A office space has been made available at the site, which also incorporates a range of residential apartments.
As well as this newly-opened office space to rent in Belfast, there are a number of other commercial property success stories in and around the city. Among the most recent is the Northern Ireland Science Park, which has seen a formerly neglected and de-industrialised region of the city transformed into a vibrant office space location.
Tourism and business travel accommodation
The number of people visiting Belfast on an annual basis has increased dramatically since the end of the Troubles in 1998 and the city is now well established as one of the most popular weekend-break destinations in Europe.
Partly as the result of massive investment and regeneration efforts on the part of local authorities, Belfast was able to attract more than seven million visitors in 2008, with the local economy benefiting hugely from the on-going tourism boom.
Public transport in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the public corporation known as Translink, which operates a variety of local railway systems and bus routes that serve the people of the province on a daily basis.
Aside from local public transport, the principal means of getting into and out of Belfast is via one or other of its two major airports, or else by road and the motorways that link the city with all other parts of Ireland.
Sport and culture
Northern Ireland has a proud sporting and cultural history, the latter of which has been entwined in no small part with its turbulent political and religious history, particular over the course of the past century or so. Songs by pop music heavyweights like Simple Minds, Elton John and U2 have all been inspired by the city and its troubled past, while orchestras, operas and musical groups from around the world are now helping Belfast build a renewed reputation for cultural excellence.
Participating in and watching sport has been an integral part of life in Belfast for generations, with Gaelic Football, Association Football and Rugby Union among the most popular traditional games played in the city. The national and local teams ply their trade in front of packed houses each week and are a match for those anywhere else in Europe – as was the nation’s greatest sporting icon and football legend George Best, for whom the city’s airport is now named.