Approval set for largest purpose-built managed student accommodation to meet “growing need”
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Plans for a multi-million pound purpose-built managed student accommodation on an island site between Library Street, Little Donegall Street, Stephen Street and Union Street have been recommended for approval by Belfast City Council planning officials.
The plans for the 795-bedroom scheme, brought by Mandeville Developments, are the largest to date in the city.
However, the accommodation is expected to only meet a fraction of the need in the area, after the new Ulster University Campus opened its door to 15,000 students and staff in September.
Earlier this year UCAS reported that c.9,600 students started undergraduate courses in Northern Ireland this academic year, adding to demand for accommodation that has grown during the previous two years.
The planned student hall of residence is located just a few metres from Ulster University’s new campus and is currently a surface level car park situated behind the former ‘Frames’ building and close to the ‘Sixth’ which is the former ‘Belfast Telegraph’ building. The proposed student accommodation will also introduce ground floor uses including café and retail space and deliver public realm improvements to surrounding footpaths.
Colin Donaldson, director for Mandeville Developments NI Limited, stated: “Intake across both universities has grown during the pandemic, and as students have moved back into the city and classes have returned full time, we have seen the demand rise beyond what we anticipated when we chose to invest in Belfast and support regeneration in the city centre.
"We understand from both universities and the further education college that demand for quality managed accommodation in the city will continue to grow and outstrip approved or existing supply.
“Throughout the planning process we have had very positive engagement with businesses and the local community to ensure our proposed designs respect the character of nearby listed buildings and can support the delivery of wider residential accommodation in the area, as outlined by Belfast City Council’s Inner North West Masterplan.
“We are delighted that we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback during our community consultation which engaged more than 750 people and reached more than 17,000 citizens in person and online. We have been able to respond to constructive feedback from the consultation and planning officers to refine the design of the building, and we welcome their recommendation to approve the application.”
Formal planning approval will be determined by Belfast City Council Planning Committee (January 17 2023).
Philip Stinson, director of planning consultants Turley, explained: “This part of the city has a vibrant history reflected in the heritage architecture and is set to become one of the most exciting and bustling parts of the city centre with Belfast City Council’s plans for ‘Belfast Stories’ a new visitor attraction and building on the positive impact of the University. We welcome the positive recommendation by officers and encourage the committee to support the proposals that will both meet a continued need for managed student accommodation and support wider regeneration.”