Residents living near Queen's Elms Village are calling on councillors to support them in their battle to stop the university building a new multi-million pound apartment block to house 260 postgraduate students — because it has “total disregard” for the Malone Conservation Area.
At a crucial point for residents in their campaign, Belfast City Council's Town Planning Committee is due to consider the proposals today (Thursday, October 8) after they come back from the Planning Service with the view to approve.
The development at Elms Student Village on the Malone Road would see Sir Arthur Vick House, Shaftesbury House and properties at numbers two and four Holyrood razed to the ground. The proposal would mean an additional 128 new bedrooms being provided on top of what is currently available for mature students.
According to Town Planning Committee minutes presented to the council last week, conservation planner Sharon Brown, representing the residents, said the application, if approved, would “result in the demolition of two important buildings which made a positive contribution to the special character and appearance of the Malone Conservation Area, thereby causing it irreparable damage”.
Alan Oliver from MASCARA (Malone and Stranmillis Conservation Area Residents' Association) said: “This application has all the hallmarks of the Planning Service attempting to railroad inappropriate and alien development forms into the Malone Conservation Area.”
Adelaide Park resident Martin McBurney added: “This has been put though with total disregard for the Conservation Area.” But residents hope at least 75 percent of councillors will vote against the plan to move it to the next stage of their fight — to the Planning Service's management board.
Balmoral councillor Ruth Patterson said: “I do think that the Conservation Area should be preserved.”
A QUB spokesperson said: “Queen’s engages regularly with local residents’ associations and neighbours and is committed to consultation on issues that affect the local community.”
A Planning Service spokesperson said: “In its assessment, Planning Service considered the quality of the buildings to be demolished, their contribution to the character of the Malone Conservation Area, the quality of design of the proposed new building and its impact within this part of Malone Conservation Area, as well as car parking issues.”