Belfast Telegraph

Last-ditch bid for planning approval for Belfast student housing

By John Mulgrew

The developers of a 271-bed student accommodation project due to be refused permission in the heart of Belfast's Golden Mile are set to go before the council's planning committee next week to argue their case.

Proposals were submitted this year to turn vacant and occupied buildings, including the former Bishops chip shop beside Lavery's bar at Bradbury Place, into student accommodation.

The planned development is just metres away from a similar proposed project on the Dublin Road that received dozens of complaints from locals.

Scottish developers Rojem Properties are behind the latest scheme, with Durnien Surveyors in Newtownabbey also working on the project.

But planners have said the development could "adversely impact on the character and appearance" of buildings, including listed properties, in the area and have recommended that it be refused permission.

The nearby listed structures include Bradbury Buildings, Crescent Arts Centre, the Moravian Church, the Crescent Church and former Methodist Church.

Planners said: "Having regard to the development, planning policies, and other material considerations, it is determined that the development will cause demonstrable harm to the interests of acknowledged importance. Refusal is therefore recommended".

The firm behind the development had planned to demolish existing buildings and build a six and 11-storey block, made up of 271 bedrooms, shared communal areas and landscaped roof terraces, along with retail units and car parking. The scheme is being designed by the Belfast-based Rapport Architects.

The news came as property developer Paddy Kearney looks set to be granted permission to partially knock down a major city centre building and replace it with a new office development.

He wants to redevelop Londonderry House on Chichester Street and construct an eight-storey office and retail building.

Planners have recommended the mixed-use retail and office scheme be given the go-ahead. The area had previous planning approval on the site, which included the green light for a 10-storey office building.

Belfast planners said the existing office building "does not make a positive contribution to the character of the conservation area and thus its demolition is acceptable".

A final decision is due to made at next Tuesday's planning committee meeting.

Just last month, Mr Kearney was given planning permission for a £55m office building. The Lanyon Central development is due to be built beside Central Station in Belfast.

This week, the city plays host to more than 120 young town planners and design professionals for the 2016 Royal Town Planning Institute's Young Planners Conference.

Among those attending are Erin Donaldson and Gary Dodds of Belfast planning consultancy firm Turley.

"The Young Planners Conference is a great opportunity to meet up with peers across the profession," the pair said.

"It adds value to hear about practices and expertise from across the UK and learn with others who are working towards or have already secured the chartered professional status."

Belfast Telegraph