Belfast's first 'build to rent' apartment scheme gets the thumbs-up from planners
11 October 2018

Belfast’s first ‘build to rent’ apartment scheme gets the thumbs-up from planners


Plans for Belfast’s first ‘build to rent’ apartment scheme in the Cathedral Quarter have been given the nod by planners.

Based in the city’s Academy Street, between Ulster University and The MAC, the £15m project is expected to create 110 jobs both directly and indirectly, during the construction phase and 25 when completed.

A report recommending the green light for the 16-storey building has been completed by Belfast City Council. The application from Holywood firm Lacuna and Welsh and developer Watkin Jones will go before the City Hall’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Planners described the build-to-let scheme as “unique to Belfast”, adding that it “will create a new form of residential accommodation in the city centre”.

With the report continuing: “This mix of residential and retail uses will add to the diversity of the city centre and complement the nearby University of Ulster (sic)whilst driving the much needed regeneration of this area and increasing the rates base that can be used for wider investment.”

The high-rise has been down-sized from the original 19-storey structure with 105 units to a 16-storey structure with 90 units.  Made up of 60 two-bed and 30 one-bed apartments, the project will require the demolition of an existing building that has been vacant for more than a decade. In addition to apartments, the ground floor of the building will include a cafe, a management suite and services.

The developers are also behind four student accommodation projects in the city, including a planned 430-bed student block on Little Patrick Street. They said their combined investment in Belfast will eventually top £100m.

Build to rent schemes involve secure long-term tenancies from a landlord who retains ownership. The plans for Academy Street are one of three major build to rent schemes in the pipeline for Belfast. Local firm Vinder Capital Ltd and London-based Aldgate Developments announced in January the £25m Residence at Quay Gate scheme in east Belfast. Last month Olympian Homes, the owners of the former UTV studios at Havelock House in the south of the city, announced plans to demolish the building and replace it with rental-only accommodation.

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