THE owners of the Europa Hotel have dramatically increased the scale of their plan for a new complex on the site of the Windsor House high-rise in Bedford Street.

Announcing their vision of the new hotel, office, retail and hospitality complex in 2015, the Hastings Group envisioned 200 rooms for the hotel. But now a revised plan has upped that number to 304 in one of the biggest private development schemes seen in the city for some years.

The £30m ‘Grand Central’ project is the most ambitious project to date by the family-run group which has been synonymous with the hotel business in Belfast for decades. The revised planning application says: “The current proposals are seen as an evolution of this previous concept, better adapting the development to the Hastings Hotels long-term business development and investment strategy.”

It’s estimated that the new development will create 120 jobs during construction and a further 150 on completion of the project.

The planning application continues: “Following further analysis of the local leisure, hospitality and commercial property market, and re-evaluation of the company's investment and business strategy, it was decided to concentrate on providing a full-service four-star hotel, providing 304 bedrooms, and enhanced public spaces.”