Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Balmoral show set to move to H-Block

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

It's expected that this will be the last year that Balmoral Show will be held at King's Hall in Belfast city centre.

The council of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) has already recommended a move from the 32ac landmark site to a 65ac site that will form part of the redevelopment of the former Maze Prison 10 miles south of Belfast.

After over 105 years in one of the most prestigious residential areas of Belfast, RUAS is confident of securing a majority vote from its 2,000 members at a meeting in three weeks' time to approve the move.

RUAS has struggled to attract big acts and exhibitions in recent years, as competition from newer and bigger venues eats into its client base.

RUAS president, John Bamber, claimed they would have been operating a loss of £100,000 a year if they had reinvested in buildings.

"At the moment we've about £4m in savings," he said.

"The plan now is to work in partnership with a UK-based development company over a five-year period to develop high-end residential units on 16ac of the site and retain the other half for conversion into a digital hub and office space.

"We believe that we can create an all-island show that will rival the Ploughing Championships in terms of visitor numbers. We could even spread it out over more than three days," he said.

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