£70m deal struck to build 1,200 student rooms in Belfast city centre
A deal worth more than £70m has been completed to build 1,200 student rooms in Belfast city centre.
Tyrone-based property developer McAleer and Rushe has entered an agreement with Queen's University, Belfast to complete the buildings across two city centre sites by summer 2018. Planning applications for both projects are under consideration by Belfast City Council.
However, the developers have said it is hoped they will be given the go-ahead imminently.
The application for the former Belfast Metropolitan College campus on McClintock Street outlines plans to build a 476-bedroom student accommodation unit with ground floor retail space, landscaped courtyards and parking.
Belfast Metropolitan College moved to its new Titanic Quarter site in September 2011 and the building was demolished last year.
An application has also been submitted for a 206-bedroom hotel and restaurant on the northern part of the site.
Meanwhile, a proposal for College Avenue has been submitted for a complex of 680 student rooms, 95 studio apartments and ground floor retail units. Previously, permission had been granted for a 10 storey hotel comprising 250 bedrooms on the site.
McAleer and Rushe property director Stephen Surphlis said the development would provide a "valuable boost for the city".
"This is the most significant property development deal in Northern Ireland for many years," he said.
It is estimated the project will create around 550 jobs during construction as well as 75 long-term jobs.
Mr Surphlis said it would make a "significant contribution" to the ongoing regeneration of Belfast city centre. He claimed the development would bring major economic benefits for nearby retail and leisure businesses and add vibrancy to the heart of the capital.
Queen's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston, said the growth of the university was critical to the success of Northern Ireland's "knowledge economy".
The university currently provides on campus accommodation to over 2,000 students, but applications for accommodation frequently outweigh the availability of rooms. Currently, the university's accommodation ranges from £69 a week for a shared room to £155 a week for a premium one-bed apartment.
Professor Johnston said: "As an anchor institution in the city, this substantial investment again demonstrates the commitment of Queen's to the development of Belfast as a learning city.
"As part of Queen's ambitious plans for growth, this much-needed student accommodation within walking distance of Queen's, city centre amenities and transport links, will ensure the university continues to attract the brightest local, national and international students to study in Belfast."