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Student housing schemes fund new city centre improvement works

4 Dec 2018
The first public realm scheme to be largely funded by contributions from developers in the city has taken a step forward.

A pilot project in the city centre will see improvement works which have been made possible by funds leveraged from the developers of two purpose-built student accommodation projects.

Since the transfer of planning powers to local councils in 2015, Belfast City Council has implemented Section 76 agreements, which require developers to make financial contributions to mitigate against the impact of large developments in the city, or to improve the environment in the immediate area. To date, the Council has put in place agreements which have leveraged around £3 million in these developer contributions.

Now, the first public realm improvement scheme has been given the green light. It is in the College Avenue, College Street and College Court area and will involve the upgrading of the road and pavement surfaces. The environmental programme will cost £600,000, with contributions from the developers of two nearby student accommodation blocks making up £475,650 of the cost. The balance is coming from the Department for Communities.

The decision to release the money from developer contributions was ratified at last night’s meeting of Belfast City Council, and was welcomed by Councillor Matt Garrett, Chair of the Planning Committee, who said:

“This is a very welcome step forward, and a demonstration of the positive impact Section 76 agreements will have for our city. I am very glad that the first scheme will be on the ground soon and I look forward to more of these projects being brought forward in the future.”
Belfast skyline from City Hall