Belfast Telegraph

Almost 600 new student rooms given approval for Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Almost 600 new student rooms — including a controversial development which received dozens of complaints from residents — have been given the green light.

The 156-bedroom building on the Dublin Road was finally approved during last night’s Belfast City Council planning committee.

Concerns were raised among residents over the scale and impact it would have on nearby Pakenham Street.

One of those also raising issue last night was SDLP councillor Declan Boyle, who is not a member of the committee.

He told the committee he was “within the (student) rental” business, but raised issue with overshadowing and a loss of light to neighbouring buildings.

However, Conor Hughes of planners Turley Associates, acting on behalf of Lacuna Developments and Welsh company Watkin Jones, said the scheme was within guidelines.

He also said residents had given up on the consultation process and “refused to meet with us”.

The application was approved by seven votes to six.

A spokesman for the developers said they were “pleased that Belfast City Council has granted planning permission” which they say “forms part of a wider £40m investment in Belfast”.

Meanwhile, a 407-bedroom development on York Street was also approved.

But one of the largest to go before the committee, a 740-room building by McAleer & Rushe at 78 College Avenue, was deferred, pending a visit to the site.

And a £14m 380-bedroom student development at Little Patrick Street, run by English firm UniCiti, was pulled from the agenda, after it was recommended for refusal by planners.

The latest planning approvals brings the total number of student rooms given the go ahead to more than 2,100.

Around 7,500 are at various different stages of development, with several projects under way.

And according to two studies, if all 7,500 beds were approved, it would account for just 23% of available student beds, a lower proportion than many other cities in the UK.

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