Planning Portal

Environment Minister gives green light to new university campus

Published on Fri, 1 Mar 2013 by
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today recommended planning approval for the new University of Ulster campus in Belfast City Centre.
The Minister also recommended refusal on an application for a mixed use development at Frederick Street. The Department of the Environment is currently consulting Belfast City Council on their opinions on both of these applications.

The campus, known as the Greater Belfast Development (GBD), will be based in York Street and represents a £250 million investment for the North and West of the City. When operational, the campus will have in the region of 11,290 full time equivalent students and around 1280 staff.

The GBD is to include three new buildings at Frederick Street / York Street, Donegal Street and Great Patrick Street, a new foot bridge and minor works to the existing university building at York Street. Also included in the proposal are public realm improvements to York Lane.

Alex Attwood said: “This has not been an easy decision – I appreciate that the nature, scale and character of the proposal has prompted concerns. I am also fully aware and sympathetic to the concerns and objections on the local residential communities. On balance however the scheme will contribute positively to the economic, social and cultural vitality of the north and west of the City whilst bringing much needed construction jobs.

“I have taken concerns on board so I have recommended refusal for the mixed use scheme at Frederick Street car park. I feel that a 487-space multi story car park and over 700 sq metres of retail space are too large and would have too great an impact on local residents.

“Done right this is “a once in a century” opportunity to reshape the North of the City Centre. A City University; the Royal Exchange approval; the City Quays proposal (Harbour Commissioners); the development of the Cathedral Quarter; even the underpass at the Westlink mean unprecedented potential in this part of the City.”

The Minister concluded: “I realise there are still issues to be resolved around this proposal – not least the need for balanced development in terms of student and social housing in this area. Car parking and potential longer term environmental impacts also need to be addressed. However my officials, Belfast City Council and other agencies and departments are working closely together to resolve these issues.”

Notes to editors:

1. The GBD application was submitted on 30 March 2012. The associated multi storey car park with retail unit was submitted on 12 September 2012.
2. The GBD application is for full planning permission for new university campus in Belfast City Centre. Development of three new buildings (Block A, Block B and Block C) with a total floor area (gross external) of 85736 square metres. Public realm improvements to York Lane and in proximity to university buildings. Demolition of existing footbridge and development of new footbridge over York Street. Minor works to the existing Block 82 external facades.
3. The proposed mixed use scheme at Frederick Street car park is for full planning permission comprising a 487 space multi storey car park, 707 square metres retail unit, landscaping and development of loading bay and signalised pedestrian crossing on Frederick Street
4. The applicant is the University of Ulster.
5. Part of site of the GBD development encompasses Cathedral Conservation Area.
6. The applications were accompanied by an Environmental Statement which covered both proposals.
7. The applications were dealt by Belfast Area Planning Office.
8. 12 letters of objection were received to the GBD scheme and one letter of support. Nine letters of objection were received for the Frederick Street application.
9. For media enquiries please contact the DOE Press Office 028 9025 6058 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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