Belfast Telegraph

Student flats to be built over Belfast railway line in £18m plan

By Margaret Canning

More student accommodation is on the way for Belfast after details emerged of plans for 270 rooms in an £18m investment in the south of the city.

The 252 bedrooms and 21 studio flats have been planned for Botanic Link - land created over the railway line between University Road and Botanic Avenue.

The railway line was covered in a culvert about 20 years ago to prepare it for development.

However, previous bids to build apartments on the site did not progress.

Now a fresh planning application will be submitted.

And Botanic Link Ltd will hold a pre-application public information event next Thursday at the Crescent Arts Centre on University Road to give details of its plans.

The development will also include a shop that will open onto Botanic Avenue.

Anthony Best, managing director of Lacuna Developments, is behind the latest venture, along with Andrew Creighton, a director at William Ewart Properties, owners of the site.

Lacuna has already been involved in a number of student housing developments in the city in joint ventures with property developer Watkin Jones, including John Bell House, at the old BIFHE building on College Square East.

Mr Best said: "We are delighted to be developing plans for what will be an £18m investment in high quality managed student accommodation in the heart of the Queen's Quarter. 

"The proposals build on our experience and understanding of the local market based on the successful delivery of purpose-built student accommodation at John Bell House, Botanic Studios, and the scheme on Queen Street which will be completed soon. The Botanic Link scheme will address a current under-supply of purpose-built accommodation in the south of the city, where only one other scheme has been developed."

He said it would ease the pressure on residential areas popular with students such as the Holyland.

And he said research indicated there was a need for modern student homes in south Belfast.

"Recent evidence shows that Belfast has the smallest supply of purpose-built student accommodation compared to other cities of similar sizes and student populations, and that demand for high quality accommodation remains in the city.

"Our sensitively designed proposals respond to local student preferences by focusing on cluster rooms which are significantly under-provided for in this part of Belfast, and provide an alternative to houses of multiple occupation accommodation in the Holyland area.

"The site already benefits from a number of previous planning permissions and a specifically designed culvert which can accommodate development.

"The scale and massing of our plans will reflect previous planning approvals for this site, which has lain vacant for more than 20 years and suffers from significant anti-social behaviour."

He said it was a "significant" opportunity to regenerate the site.

Belfast Telegraph

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