Belfast student accomodation: Planning officers recommend refusing permission for 11 storey student block after residents demand social housing
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Councillors at Belfast City Council Planning Committee this week reviewed the application to build the 254-flat block on a major car park off Sandy Row. Artemis Development Ltd is proposing to build on the site bounded by Glenalpin Street, Wellwood Street and Norwood Street.
In June 2019 the council approved a build-to-rent residential block for the site, which came to nothing. The student accomodation – up to 11 storeys high – would have a common social space, gym, kitchen, cinema room, bicycle storage, kitchens, living and dining facilities and an external terrace.
Council planning officers reported that the scale and design was acceptable, although concerns were raised about parking and management of the accommodation. However they concluded that the development is “considered unacceptable as the site is located within an established residential area and as such is contrary to policy” and recommended refusing planning permission.
The council received 166 objections along with a 271 signature petition against the plans. Concerns raised include the need for social housing in the area for local people and the restoration of family homes, as well as the proliferation of student accommodation in the area raising the potential for anti-social behaviour. Objectors claim private development in the area has not benefited the community, that the scale of the student block is out of keeping with the area, and that the increase in traffic would exacerbate a history of parking problems.
The matter was deferred until next month to allow for a site meeting.
DUP MLA Edwin Poots, whose constituency office is on Sandy Row, said: “The local community and their representatives are totally opposed to this type of development in the urban village of Sandy Row.
"What the area needs is housing for the local community, there has been a lack of investment in social housing, that is the only type of development wanted or needed in the area.”
Some councillors have been arguing that a high concentration of student accommodation in the area will be detrimental to local communities.
As well as Botanic Studios apartments on 78- 86 Dublin Road, and the recently completed 253 bed student block Aster House at University Road, plans have been submitted for an 11 storey student block with 210 bedrooms at the site of Filthy McNastys, 41-49 Dublin Road.
Further along Great Victoria Street, at Bruce Street, is another recently completed 15 storey student accommodation building, housing 271 self-contained studios.
This week plans were reported involving demolition of the 11-storey Fanum House on Great Victoria Street, often called “the ugliest building in Belfast” to be replaced with a new student accommodation for 610 students.
Queen’s University is also planning a student housing scheme on the nearby Dublin Road on part of the site once occupied by the Movie House cinema.