Belfast Telegraph

Developer to create 1,200 new rooms to house Belfast's students

By Jamie Stinson

Co Tyrone property developer McAleer and Rushe has announced two major student housing developments bringing more than 1,200 new rooms to Belfast.

Planning applications have been lodged for the two projects which will support 300 construction jobs while building takes place, the Cookstown construction firm said.

The plans are for a 840-room scheme on College Avenue and a 476-room building on McClintock Street, which will involve the demolition of the former Belfast Metropolitan College building facing Blackstaff Square.

The developments, which are set to be complete by summer 2017, aim to meet the demand for student accommodation in Belfast's city centre, as the Ulster University moves from its Jordanstown campus to York Street in 2017.

Both schemes will have studio apartments, and four, five, and six-bedroom flats, including ensuite bathrooms, study zones and a common kitchen.

Belfast-based Consarc Design Group has designed both the student accommodation complexes and a new hotel also planned for McClintock Street.

Stephen Surphlis, property director of McAleer and Rushe, said the developments will help in addressing Belfast's shortage of student housing in the city centre. "The development of 1,280 rooms in the city centre will help to address the current shortage of purpose built student accommodation which is significantly below the UK average," Mr Surphlis said.

"We are planning to commence construction this autumn with the developments being completed for the intake of students in summer 2017.

"These are large scale development and investment projects which underpin our confidence in Belfast and particularly the student accommodation sector where we already have a significant presence."

The company has developed large amounts of student housing in Great Britain, working with companies such as Unite and Knightsbridge Student Housing.

Welsh builder Watkins Jones has also won planning permission for a scheme to convert the former Belfast Metropolitan College building at College Square East into 413-room student accommodation at the almost 110-year old property.

The McClintock Street development is part of a mixed use scheme, which will also involve the creation of a new 206-bedroom four-star hotel.

Earlier this month Hasting Hotels, owner of a chain of hotels including the Europa and Culloden, announced it has plans to turn the 23-storey Windsor House into a hotel, after it bought the Bedford Street building.

Across the road on Donegall Square South, the Hill family, which owns the Galgorm Resort and Spa, have been given planning permission to turn the Scottish Mutual building into a 20-bedroom hotel.

Last week, it was announced that McAleer and Rushe will develop Clarendon House on Adelaide Street, after selling the site to Belfast City Council for £24.7m.

Planning permission has been given by the council to knock down the building and replace it with a new 100,000 sq ft office complex.

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