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Belfast's plush apartment blocks half empty, claim experts

High-profile apartment developments in Belfast are half empty, housing experts have today claimed.

A University of Ulster survey which was carried out eight years ago revealed a 30% vacancy rate among apartments at that time, but housing chiefs have claimed the current figure could be as high as 50% now.

They say the combination of the province’s plummeting house prices and the recession have turned ambitious schemes such as Titanic Quarter into ghost developments.

In addition, there are up to 1,000 apartments, including properties in The Arc in Titanic Quarter and The Bakery on the Ormeau Road lying unlet, according to Propertynews.com.

Louise Brown, one of the author’s of the University of Ulster House Price Index, said: “I’d say vacancy rates at apartments are about 50%.”

Joe Frey, the Housing Executive’s head of research, said: “The last survey we did was in 2001 and it put the vacancy rate in apartments at 30%. And we think it has risen since then.”

Many of the unlet properties are in high profile schemes such as Titanic Quarter and The Bakery. Both upmarket schemes made the headlines when they were launched in recent years.

Since then, however, The Bakery has been mired in controversy when buyers became embroiled in a legal wrangle with the developer. Many of The Bakery buyers, who bought at the height of the boom, were unable to get finance to payroll their mortgages when the credit crunch hit and property prices went into freefall.

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