Former college site rented to creative art studio

Siobhan McCrystal (manager, Maple and May), Adam Turkington (Vault Art Studios) and Jon Anderson (director, Maple and May)

THE former home of Belfast Metropolitan College is to be rented to a local community group as plans are put in place for the site's redevelopment.

Belfast-based property company, Maple and May, who purchased the former college on Tower Street earlier this year, will rent the building to local community group Vault Artist Studios for the foreseeable future.

Vault Artist Studios is a group of artists working across many disciplines, including visual artists, musicians, puppeteers, photographers and filmmakers. Their collaboration with Maple and May has allowed them to occupy much needed space in the interim.

Thousands of commercial and industrial buildings are vacant in towns and cities across Northern Ireland, many of which are long-term derelict site and Vault Artist Studios seek the use of these spaces to provide a resource base for artists to flourish.

Jon Anderson, Director at Maple and May said:

“The purchase of the Tower Street building is good news for those looking at regeneration of the site and a home in the area. Redevelopment of any site takes careful planning and time and we are keen that our plans for the site meets the needs of the local community.

“We wanted to ensure the building was put to good use in the meantime and this partnership with Vault Artist Studios was the perfect solution. Their temporary residency allows them the flexibility they need while ensuring the building continues to be fully functioning, continuing to regenerate the area while we complete our plans”.

Maple and May has already acquired 80 apartments and houses throughout Northern Ireland and signalled an intention to buy or develop more than 500 new homes in the next five years.

Adam Turkington from Vault Art Studios added:

“Our presence, in otherwise vacant buildings, improves the security of sites and pours colour and energy into the surrounding community. Vault was established to use vacant space to allow creatives to collaborate, experiment and build community. This building has allowed us to more than quadruple our membership and we are giddy with excitement at the opportunities that this presents us with.”

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