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Planners bin plans for student flats near homes in north Belfast

Frank Dempsey from the Carrick Hill Residents Association standing at the junction of Carrick Hill and Clifton Street in north Belfast
Connla Young

PLANNING officials have recommended some applications to build student flats close to Ulster University in north Belfast be rejected.

Councillors are expected to rubber stamp the recommendation to refuse permission for apartment blocks close to Carrick Hill next week.

The applications are linked to a multi-million pound development of a new Ulster University campus close to Belfast city centre which will bring more than 12,000 students into the area.

Locals fear the area will suffer with the type of anti-social behaviour familiar to the residents of the Holylands in south Belfast.

One of the proposals rejected by planners was close to residential homes at Kent Street and Stephen Street. It includes plans for an 11-storey apartment block to house 78 apartments containing 408 en-suite bedrooms.

The rejected application is in an area where Northside Regeneration wants to develop several student apartment blocks.

A separate proposal to build a 10-storey apartment block close to the junction of Carrick Hill and Clifton Street has also been recommended for rejection.

Planners believe this development will have an "adverse impact and harm the setting of a number of listed buildings" located nearby.

A third application to provide student accommodation on Royal Avenue has also been knocked back.

However, an application to build a 14-storey apartment block at York Street and an 11-storey student building at Great Patrick Street, providing accommodation for hundreds of students, have been recommended for approval.

Carrick Hill residents Association spokesman Frank Dempsey gave the recommendation a cautious welcome.

"The council is waking up to what is being proposed here," he said.

He criticised plans for an apartment block in Kent and Stephen Street.

"Lets not forget there are two streets where there are houses nearly 140 years old with coble stones," he said.

The residents have the backing of Culture minister and assembly member for the area, who said the planners recommendation was a "relief."

"There is clearly a need to manage the demands of people waiting years in some cases for a home with the objective of developing the full potential of the Ulster University and student housing."

SDLP councillor Nichola Mallon said residents have genuine concerns.

"They are rightly concerned about the inevitable consequences from the concentration of high rise student flats in such a small area and the loss of much needed land for social housing in the face of a housing crisis in North Belfast to accommodate it," she said.

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