Northern Ireland Planning Service

Belfast HMO Subject Plan 2015
Policy HMO 7

Policy HMO 7 Large Scale Purpose Built Student Accommodation
Planning permission will only be granted for large scale purpose built student accommodation where all of the following criteria are met:
  • Development of any complex consists of a minimum of 50 units or a minimum of 200 occupants. This will not preclude proposals for smaller incremental extensions or consolidations of existing halls of residence and phased development of larger schemes;
  • All units are self-contained (i.e. having a bathroom, w.c. and kitchen available for use only by the occupiers);
  • The location is not within a primarily residential area;
  • Provision is made for management of all accommodation. This may require an Article 40 agreement with Planning Service;
  • Landscaping and amenity space is provided in accordance with a landscaping plan indicating all landscaping proposals for the scheme and, where relevant making provision for future maintenance.
Policy HMO 7 is designed to facilitate the need and demand for multiple occupation, protect the amenity of other residential areas and promote appropriate development of student accommodation.
Purpose built accommodation for students is considered a more suitable form of accommodation rather than the conversion of terraced dwellings. Currently Belfast has a lower level of purpose built student housing than most other major university cities in the UK when the number of such units available is compared to student enrolment (12% against a national average of 25%). The Subject Plan, therefore, anticipates that a significantly higher proportion of student accommodation will be provided by purpose built developments.
Planning Service considers that a number of suitable sites exist which are currently outside residential areas. Therefore, the impact of such purpose built accommodation on the physical infrastructure, amenity and character of such areas will be minimal. Development of such sites for purpose built student accommodation has the potential to ease the pressure on local housing markets, particularly in South Belfast, and thereby increase the availability of traditional housing.
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