Belfast Telegraph

Ulster University in legal tussle with contractors over £250m Belfast campus

By John Mulgrew

Ulster University's already-delayed new £250m Belfast campus could face further setbacks as legal proceedings have begun over the construction contract.

In November it was revealed that the scheme would be held up until the end of 2019.

The joint venture between Lagan Construction Group and Portuguese firm Somague was awarded a £150m contract - part of the overall £250m - for the second phase.

But now the university has confirmed that a legal case is under way.

"Working with our contractor we continue to monitor progress of the innovative campus at regular stages and milestones," Ulster University said.

"On a capital project of this scale and complexity, it would be expected that challenges can arise.

"We work through those challenges and continue to progress towards the delivery of a visionary new campus in the heart of the city centre.

"As legal proceedings are under way in relation to some aspects of the contract, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

A spokeswoman for Lagan Construction and Somague Group said that it was "unable to comment at this time".

The university had originally planned to open the Belfast Campus by late 2018, welcoming students at the start of the 2019 academic year as part of the second phase of the project, but this has now been pushed back to 2020.

Ulster University added: "On any large scale construction project, adjustments to timeframes are to be expected.

"Our lead contractor's programme identifies delivery of phase two construction works of the new Belfast campus to completion by late 2019, following which our staff and students will begin to occupy the new buildings on campus.

"Relocation from Jordanstown campus will be phased around the university calendar and operations. Precise timings will be confirmed as we progress through the final stages of the build.

"We look forward to being on the new state-of-the-art campus for the first full teaching year from autumn 2020."

The York Street campus will cater for up to 15,000 students, with the majority of courses transferring from Jordanstown.

As a result of the huge shift in student numbers, several major accommodation buildings are being constructed to house the undergraduates.

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 campus.

One project, a joint venture between Co Down firm Lacuna and Welsh developer Watkin Jones at Little Patrick Street for a 430-bedroom block, is expected to get planning approval next week.

The pair are also behind the now opened John Bell House student development at College Avenue, as well as a new student accommodation scheme at Queen Street on the site of the former Athletic Stores.

At the end of last year they completed their Botanic Studios student building on Dublin Road.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.