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Plans for 700 new student rooms in Belfast to get green light

By John Mulgrew

Published 12/05/2016

The Victorian building which once housed the Athletic Stores in Belfast
The Victorian building which once housed the Athletic Stores in Belfast

Around 700 new student accommodation rooms in Belfast are due to be granted approval next week.

Two buildings in the city centre have been put forward for approval by Belfast City Council planners, including the 317-bedroom Swanston Hall on the corner of Queen Street.

The Victorian Athletic Stores building on Queen Street is being transformed into a new student development by Welsh firm Watkin Jones and Holywood's Lacuna Developments.

It drew objections from the RSPB and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society but has been put forward for approval.

"The proposal is considered on balance to comply with the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) and other material considerations in particular to the core planning principles," planners said.

Meanwhile, a second building initially put forward for refusal, is now due to get the go-ahead. It's a 380-bedroom development at Little Patrick Street, run by English firm UniCiti.

Planners now say the proposed 11-storey building should go ahead.

The developers behind the £14m scheme had said they were "surprised" and "concerned" at the earlier recommendation that the building didn't get approval.

Planners had said it "should be refused as insufficient amenity space and outlook has been provided within the scheme to ensure a quality residential environment for future residents, and insufficient information has been submitted".

UniCiti has already been successful in getting approval for an 82-bedroom project at York Street - close to the new city centre campus of Ulster University.

The £250m campus is expected to open in 2019 instead of 2018. But the university said it was "not unusual for major construction projects to experience some delays".

More than 2,100 new student rooms have now been granted permission in Belfast. The developments at Swanston Hall and Little Patrick Street go before Belfast City Council's planning committee on Tuesday.

Belfast Telegraph

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