Belfast Telegraph

New social housing project set for Titanic Quarter: Hundreds of apartments are planned for east Belfast

Exclusive By John Mulgrew

A major social housing project is set for Belfast's Titanic Quarter, it can be revealed.

The new development of hundreds of apartments could be around six or seven storeys tall.

It's understood Belfast firm Connswater Homes is currently in the very early "feasibility" stages of the project, and hasn't yet entered into a formal agreement to purchase the land at Titanic Quarter. But it's believed the development is planned for close to the edge of Titanic Quarter on the Sydenham Road end of the site.

Neither Connswater Homes or the Titanic Quarter was able to comment on the development.

Concerns had previously been raised by members of Belfast City Council that working-class communities in east Belfast had missed out on any dividend from the development.

And PUP councillor Dr John Kyle said there "should be social affordable housing" in the area.

Last night he welcomed the initial early plans for the new social housing development, albeit with some concerns. "There is a shortage [of social housing] all over Belfast, including east Belfast," said Dr Kyle.

"We welcome that this is within the Titanic Quarter footprint as there was a danger of it becoming a rather exclusive area in which people from working class backgrounds were excluded."

But he raised concerns over creating one single large housing block - which is one option being considered - and said it was "much more preferable to pepper social housing in a private housing development".

Meanwhile, the firm behind the Titanic Quarter, Harcourt Developments, is now seeking additional millions in funding - split 50/50 - to further develop the huge 300-acre site.

"The developers, Harcourt Developments, are looking for an equity partner to form a 50/50 joint venture to progress their next phase of development," the firm said.

"The next phase of development presents the opportunity to partner on five projects with a development cost of £235m which are shovel-ready."

It's part of the so-called Regeneration Investment Organisation, which is a UK Trade and Investment plan to "support foreign investors seeking to participate in major scale urban regeneration schemes in the UK".

"As part of the initiative Titanic Quarter Ltd is exploring opportunities to develop the next phase," a spokesman for Titanic Quarter told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Projects being actively pursued include those in the office, financial services, media and leisure markets."

The entire regeneration of Titanic Quarter is set to be completed by 2034, with the regeneration plans stating it could create some 30,000 permanent jobs once finished.

Since it was first given the green light in 2006, the area has witnessed a host of new buildings and developments springing up.

These include the Arc apartments, the Belfast Metropolitan College campus, the new Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the recent Titanic Exhibition centre and the £90m tourist attraction Titanic Belfast.

A number of hotels are also planned, with work set to start soon on an 84-bedroom development at the former Harland & Wolff drawing offices.

It's one of Europe's largest waterfront regeneration projects, and as of the end of 2012 around 15% of the potential development land had been completed at a construction cost of £350m.

Belfast Telegraph