Approval set for Belfast’s largest PBSA scheme

Approval set for Belfast's largest purpose-built student accommodation scheme close to Ulster University’s new campus.

The proposed Belfast student accommodation development from Union Street - Turley | Mandeville Developments | PBSA News
The proposed Belfast student accommodation development from Union Street.

Turley announce that plans for a multi-million-pound purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development 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 design of the new scheme is being led by local practice Like Architects, with project managers WT Partnership. The plans for the 795-bedroom scheme, brought by Mandeville Developments, are the largest to date in the city. The proposed student accommodation will also introduce ground floor uses including café and retail space, and it will deliver public realm improvements to surrounding footpaths.

“We’re delighted to see the decision from Belfast City Council to recommend this application for approval. This presents a fantastic opportunity to drive the growth and regeneration of the area surrounding Library Street, where a dense urban grain once existed. The development not only repairs the built fabric of the Union Street locale, but also creates a contemporary architecture which resonates with the site’s industrial past, adding much needed vitality and diversity to this part of Belfast.”

A spokesperson for Like Architects
Courtyard view of the proposed student accommodation | PBSA News
Courtyard view of the proposed student accommodation.

The planned scheme is a few metres from Ulster University’s new campus. The site is currently a surface level car park situated behind the former ‘Frames’ building and close to the ‘Sixth’, the former ‘Belfast Telegraph’ building.

Formal planning approval will be determined by Belfast City Council Planning Committee on 17 January 2023.

“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.”

Philip Stinson, Director of planning consultants, Turley
Entrance view of the development from Union Street | PBSA News
Entrance view of the development from Union Street.

This planned development 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 2022. 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.

“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.”

Colin Donaldson, Director, Mandeville Developments NI Limited