Belfast City Council has approved its first ‘Build to Rent’ scheme – a 16 storey, 52 metre tall apartment block in the Cathedral Quarter.
The landmark proposal was approved unanimously by the Belfast City Council Planning Committee. It is the city’s fifth scheme to be led by joint venture Lacuna Watkin Jones, which has invested around £120 million over the past three years. The 90-apartment scheme is now expected to begin on-site in January 2019, with completion scheduled for early 2020.
“This scheme is a direct response to Belfast City Council’s exciting ambitions to improve the city and particularly to increase the city centre’s residential population,” said Anthony Best, Managing Director at Lacuna Developments.
“This decision reflects the hard work of Belfast City Council’s planning department, the planning committee and its senior leadership team, and it builds upon the growing image of Belfast as a vibrant place open for high quality investment.”
According to Lacuna Watkin Jones, Belfast is already playing catch-up with other cities. But this decision demonstrates that Belfast is open to the ‘Built to Rent’ model, which marries city centre apartments with services more commonly associated with the hospitality sector – a concierge, building management, communal amenity space and a ground floor cafe.
Michael Gordon, Head of Planning for Northern Ireland at Turley who advised on the proposal, added: “This is potentially the beginning of a new trend for Belfast. Academy Street will be the first scheme to introduce build to rent accommodation, a new form of city living that will help Belfast City Council meet its ambitious target to deliver 8,000 new homes in the city centre.”
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