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£18m plan for Belfast student accommodation

Botanic Link- the land between University Road and Botanic Avenue, in South Belfast will house more student accommodation. The Botanic railway line was covered in a culvert around 20 years ago to prepare it for development although previous bids to build apartments on the site did not progress.

Details have also emerged of plans for a shop that will open on Botanic Avenue alongside 270 rooms comprising of 252 bedrooms and 21 studio flats in this forthcoming £18m investment.

A new planning application will be submitted and a pre-application public information event next Thursday at the Crescent Arts Centre on University Road. Here, Botanic Link Ltd will give details of its development plans.

Andrew Creighton, a director at William Ewart Properties, owners of the site and Anthony Best, managing director of Lacuna Developments are behind this substantial development.

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 research indicated there was a necessity for modern student homes which would ease the pressure on residential areas currently popular with students- such as the Holyland areas.

“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.

Lacuna have previously been involved with numerous Belfast student housing developments, including the recent John Bell House, at the old BIFHE building on College Square East.

“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 Botanic Link site.