Belfast Telegraph

Birmingham firm to operate four student accommodation blocks in Belfast after big investment

An artist’s impression of student accommodation at Great Patrick Street
An artist’s impression of student accommodation at Great Patrick Street
Tim Butler of Student Roost
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A Birmingham-based company has announced it will be operating up to four student accommodation blocks in Belfast.

Student Roost will open two new student blocks on Great Patrick Street and at Swanston House on Wellington Place in Belfast in September.

Together, the two blocks will be home to nearly 800 students.

And it announced it's bought the historic John Bell House at College Square East, as well as having a "further central Belfast property" in the pipeline. A spokesman confirmed it also owns the other properties.

The company would not say how much it spent on acquisitions, but said its spend in Belfast now amounted to "a significant investment".

John Bell House was formerly Belfast Technical Institute before it was turned into student accommodation and renamed by a joint venture of Co Down firm, Lacuna, and Welsh developer, Watkin Jones. With up to four Belfast blocks in its portfolio, Student Roost will be the biggest operator of student accommodation in Belfast.

However, there have been fears that some potential investors in student accommodation could be put off by delays in the completion of the latest phase of Ulster University's new Belfast campus.

Sign In

Student Roost chief executive Tim Butler said the company had enjoyed council support, and the backing of the city's universities.

"These fantastic new properties could only have come about with the support of Belfast City Council and the city's two universities," he said.

"The issues were frequently complex, as they often are, but we never lost sight of our shared vision and ambition for the city.

"Yes, Belfast is a great, historic city, but it understands that its future is in being a modern place to work, invest and study.

"Modern purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) is a big part of that picture. The two developments have created over 300 construction jobs and the properties will employ a further 20 permanent staff, meeting students' needs."

The developments feature all-inclusive bills, study and socialising areas and super-fast wifi.

Student Roost chief operating officer Nathan Goddard said: "When the centre was redeveloped to increase university presence, it had the potential to put real strain on residential housing. Having new, high-quality, purpose-built student accommodation will give students somewhere affordable and safe to stay outside of traditional residential areas."

Great Patrick Street has 474 beds and Swanston House has 317. Northern Ireland building firm Gilbert-Ash carried out the work on the 11-storey development on Great Patrick Street for Olympian Homes.

Student Roost is a UK manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation.

The company operates 44 properties, housing 16,400 in 18 UK cities. It's owned by property fund Brookfield Real Estate Strategic Partners II.

Some 7,500 beds are at various stages of development across Belfast. More than 3,000 have been given the green light by planners, with many of those near to the new Ulster University campus.

Belfast Telegraph