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City centre plan for student building with 710 bedrooms

By John Mulgrew

Published 11/07/2015

Concerned: Frank Dempsey
Concerned: Frank Dempsey

Plans have been submitted for yet another major student accommodation project in Belfast city centre boasting more than 700 rooms.

An application has been lodged for a development on Donegall Street for a 710-bedroom student building, including 54 lower ground floor parking spaces.

It's part of a major project to regenerate the Northside area of the city.

The Northside Regeneration consortium has been chosen by the Department for Social Development (DSD) to press ahead with plans to create an "urban village" in the northern part of Belfast city centre.

The project is a partnership between developer Kevin McKay and the construction firm Balfour Beatty.

The overall development could see up to 3,000 apartments and houses - primarily for students from the new Ulster University campus.

Speaking about the proposal, Mr McKay said: "The plans we have developed have given careful consideration to the feedback we received during our consultation with local people.

"We have been sensitive to building heights, the preservation of heritage buildings and their facades as well as the proportionality of the mixed use scheme.

"This represents a major redevelopment of an area that has experienced dereliction and neglect over many years and has the potential to not only change the north of the city, but will have wider benefits for Northern Ireland as a whole."

It's the latest in a series of major new student accommodation projects ahead of Ulster University's move to Belfast city centre.

In May Co Tyrone property developer McAleer and Rushe announced two student housing developments, bringing more than 1,200 new rooms to the city. They will support 300 jobs during construction.

Planning applications have been submitted for a 840-room scheme on College Avenue.

And in March the green light was given for 400 rooms of student accommodation at a former Belfast Metropolitan College building in the city centre.

Work is already under way on the building, which is the first major private sector student accommodation venture in Northern Ireland.

It is scheduled to be completed by September 2016.

It will include 412 rooms - 291 bedrooms and 121 studios - and feature a management suite and both indoor and outdoor communal areas.

Each of the new developments is aiming to meet the demand for student accommodation in Belfast city centre as the Ulster University begins its move from its Jordanstown campus to York Street in 2017.

Local housing and community development worker Frank Dempsey said: "This level of development of student accomodation is crazy. The planners have opened the floodgates.

"Instead of regenerating north Belfast, these plans will destroy it.

"If all the planning applications in the pipeline are approved, there will be 6,000 student flats in this area - and student numbers are being cut. What will happen to those flats then?

"The developers, planners and other agencies need to stand back and take a second look at what's going on here. This is crazy."

Belfast Telegraph

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