Holywood Exchange

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Holywood Exchange is located in Greater Belfast
Holywood Exchange
Holywood Exchange
Location of Holywood Exchange
Entrance sign to Holywood Exchange, March 2009
B&Q, Holywood Exchange, February 2010
Sainsbury's, Holywood Exchange, February 2010
Next Home, Holywood Exchange, February 2010
harvey Norman, Holywood Exchange, February 2010
IKEA, Holywood Exchange, February 2010

Holywood Exchange is a major retail development on the borders of Belfast and Holywood, Northern Ireland. It is beside Belfast City Airport, in the townland of Knocknagoney. The site was previously known as D5 and Harbour Exchange. At present the development compromises an 11 unit 13,940 m2 (150,000 ft2) retail warehouse centre with (as of December 2014); Harvey Norman, Next Home, Decathlon,[1] and Wrights Sofaland.[2] Located beside the retail warehouse is a Sainsbury's store and service station, a B&Q store, and an IKEA store. Like the expansion of the Sprucefield development, Holywood Exchange has been controversial and the subject of repeated planning problems and legal disputes.

Local firm Osborne King are letting agents for the scheme.


The first planning application for what was then known as D5 was made by Aquis Estates Limited, Anglia and General Developments Limited and Belfast Harbour Commissioners on 14 November 1995.[3] A five-week public inquiry was held in December 1996 and January 1997.[4] In 1997 the Planning Appeal Commission and the Department of the Environment's Planning Service recommended that approval should be granted. Formal planning permission was granted on 13 April 1999. On 21 June 1999 Belfast City Council and The Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce applied for judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission. On 9 July 1999 planning permission for D5 was quashed as it was judged that the Minister did not take the decision with all the relevant information.[3]

Planning permission for the competing Tesco development on the opposite side of the A2 road had been granted on 28 November 1998. Following the quashing of planning permission for D5 its developers sought judicial review of the permission granted to Tesco, arguing that the same could apply to that development, however this was refused on 17 September 1999. This judgement was slightly controversial, given that the judge refused to rescind planning permission solely because the £13 million Tesco store was almost complete.[5]

The developers resubmitted their planning application and were granted permission on 21 March 2000. This decision was again successfully challenged in September 2000.[6] Following another appeal planning permission was granted in February 2001.[7] The Belfast Chamber of Trade lodged a legal challenge with the House of Lords, however its judicial committee refused to grant the chamber of trade leave to appeal.[8] Construction of the B&Q store commenced in December 2002.

B&Q Holywood Exchange opened in August 2003. Sainsbury's Holywood Exchange opened in September 2003 with a sales area of 3,809 m2 (41,000 ft2)[9]

The retail warehouse units were not let after completion; they are "the subject of strict guidelines that dictate that only bulky goods can be sold" as a result of the legal challenges to its construction. However, in May 2008 The Irish News reported that The Planning Service "is considering an application that would see the addition of a mezzanine floor in the retail warehouse. Retailers say the additional space is necessary for them to display goods." The Irish News named Harvey Norman, Next, T.K. Maxx and Bhs as likely tenants; all selling electric and/or homeware goods.[10]


In January 2006 IKEA announced its intention to build a 25,800 m2 (278,000 ft2) store, its first in Northern Ireland. In May 2006 IKEA amended its application for a larger 29,000 m2 (312,000 ft2) store.[11] The application was approved in December 2006,[12] work on the store began in January 2007 and the store opened on 13 December 2007.[13][14]

The store includes a 500-seat Restaurant, Bistro and Swedish Shop and has parking for 1455 vehicles.[15] Heating is provided by a 1.2 MW biomass boiler fuelled by locally produced woodchips. [16]

Restaurant Units[edit]

In June 2012 it was announced that 4 restaurant units 924.11 m2 (9934 ft2)[17][18] were to be built within the existing retail units park and would be soon available to lease. As of January 2015 Subway (restaurant) and Costa Coffee [19] have occupied two separate premises.


The developers of the Holywood Exchange were able to take advantage of existing road connections. The most important element of these connections was a full flyover on the A2, already built for access to the Belfast Harbour Estate. The Belfast-Bangor railway line runs between the site and the A2. There are proposals for a railway halt to serve both Holywood Exchange and the adjacent Belfast City Airport. However Belfast City Airport argues that constructing the halt adjacent to the airport terminal (further away from Holywood Exchange) would encourage more air travellers to use the rail connection.[20] The Airport has also stated that it will consider providing road access to the airport through Holywood Exchange as a way of reducing congestion on the existing airport access route.

On 16 January 2007 the Regional Development Minister David Cairns announced that a feasibility study would be launched into the construction of a rapid transit route linking Holywood Exchange to Belfast city centre. The route would also serve the airport and the Titanic Quarter development.[21]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Canning, Margaret (26 January 2010). "Decathlon creates 60 jobs with debut store". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Wrights Sofaland"
  3. ^ a b Mr Justice Coghlin (1 September 2000). "In the matter of an application by Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Belfast City Council and North Down Borough Council for Judicial Review". Northern Ireland Court Service. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  4. ^ Morton, Robert (2 January 1997) 'Harbour site war' Belfast Telegraph
  5. ^ "Heritage Review No. 3" (PDF). John McMurtry & Co Ltd. Spring 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  6. ^ "Judge axes £80m shopping complex". BBC News. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  7. ^ "Disputed shopping complex go ahead". BBC News. 23 February 2001. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  8. ^ Morton, Robin (6 November 2001). "Chamber of Trade faces D5 legal bill". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast Telegraph Newspapers. 
  9. ^ "J Sainsbury plc Preliminary Results 2003/4" (PDF). J Sainsbury plc. 19 May 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  10. ^ Manley, John (27 May 2008) "Exchange lines up big names in retail" The Irish News. Retrieved on 16 August 2008
  11. ^ "Ikea enlarge planned Belfast shop". BBC News. 26 May 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  12. ^ "Ikea gets go-ahead for city store". BBC News. 21 December 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2007. 
  13. ^ "Work starting on first Ikea store". BBC News. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  14. ^ "COUNTDOWN TO IKEA OPENING DAY BEGINS: ONLY 118 DAYS TO GO!" (Press release). IKEA. 19 August 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  15. ^ IKEA. "IKEA Belfast – Opening Winter 07". Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  16. ^ "Alternative Fuel Boosted". 4NI.co.uk. 21 January 2009. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  17. ^ "Food for thought at Holywood Exchange". Belfast Telegraph. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "To Let". Osborne King. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "HOLYWOOD EXCHANGE WELCOMES COSTA AND SUBWAY!". Osborne King. June 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "Belfast City Airport Master Plan to 2030" (PDF). Belfast City Airport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  21. ^ Morton, Robin (16 January 2007). "Light rail plans for Belfast speed up". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media (NI). Archived from the original on 28 January 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2007. 

Coordinates: 54°37′33″N 5°51′33″W / 54.6257°N 5.8591°W / 54.6257; -5.8591