Belfast Telegraph

Belfast student scheme bought over by joint venture behind four city developments

By John Mulgrew

A student accommodation scheme in Belfast has been sold off to a developer behind similar projects elsewhere in the city.

Lacuna Developments and Watkin Jones Group have purchased 26-44 Little Patrick Street, which has planning permission for 354 student rooms. It had been owned by developer UniCiti. They are also due to increase the size of the scheme, amid plans to raise the bedroom numbers to 430.

The joint venture of Lacuna and Watkin Jones is also behind the now open John Bell House student development, at College Avenue in Belfast city centre.

It's also behind a new 340-bedroom student scheme at Queen Street.

Lacuna is also putting the finishing touches to its student development on the Dublin Road.

The total value of all the schemes is estimated to be worth £70m.

Anthony Best, managing director of Lacuna Developments, said: "We look forward to delivering a fourth student accommodation scheme, and securing more than £100m of investment for the city.

"In September 2019, the completion of the Ulster University campus will bring 15,000 more students and staff to this area of Belfast. The revised plans for Little Patrick Street will contribute less than 1% of the accommodation required.

"Through our experiences with John Bell House, Dublin Road and Athletic Stores we have built up our understanding of the student market and demand in Belfast.

"Our changes to the scheme will provide the right mix of studio and cluster bedrooms to meet demand from the market.

"Reconfiguration of the internal layout has allowed us to create a second outside amenity space, and increase the number of beds from 354 to 430.

"This will add an additional floor to the proposed accommodation. However, as a result of the reconfiguration we have reduced the overall height of the building by approximately three metres."

The developers are now carrying out a 12-week consultation for the revised plans.

Meanwhile, two other major student housing developments in Belfast are set to get bigger amid fresh plans. McAleer & Rushe is currently building a development at College Avenue which will have 647 bedrooms, 93 studio rooms and retail outlets on the ground floor.

It's also creating a 476-bedroom scheme at McClintock Street. But the Co Tyrone firm is planning to increase the size of both buildings.

This includes adding a further 14 rooms for the smaller McClintock Street development, and another seven to the larger College Avenue building, which will include two extensions on the 10th and 11th floors.

Elsewhere in the city, Olympian Homes at Nelson Street is planning to bring a further 774 bedrooms to the city. In May, it emerged that the developers behind a 620-bed student accommodation scheme that was to be part of a £300m Belfast regeneration plan are appealing a decision to refuse it planning permission.

The Northside Regeneration body had wanted to develop the building, which would include housing and retail and leisure facilities. But the former Department for Social Development (DSD) pulled its support for the overall scheme.

Belfast Telegraph