Northern Ireland news

Plans submitted to redevelop landmark Catholic Chaplaincy site at QUB

Plans have been submitted to redevelop the landmark Catholic Chaplaincy site at QUB
Suzanne McGonagle

PLANS have been submitted to redevelop the landmark Catholic chaplaincy site at Queen's University Belfast.

Student accommodation and an upgrade of facilities at the Elmwood Avenue building are among the proposals, including a welcome area, coffee bar, recreation and counselling spaces.

Queen's chaplain Fr Dominic McGrattan said the redevelopment, which is being undertaken by the Catholic chaplaincy and Down and Connor diocese, will "untap the potential of its premises, giving the building and its important mission to students, a new lease of life".

The application has been submitted to Belfast City Council, which if approved, will see the upgrade of the chaplaincy’s building - first opened in 1972 - to include upwards of 40 units of student accommodation. To make way for the self-contained studio apartments on the upper floors, the chaplaincy will relocate to the ground floor.

Fr McGrattan said with the current demand for student housing outstripping supply, it is hoped the redevelopment of the chaplaincy building could "see the church play its part in easing the crisis, offering good quality, spacious accommodation in a much sought-after location".

"Chaplaincy expects its accommodation offering to be particularly attractive to international and postgraduate students, though it will be available to the entire student population at Queen’s, irrespective of religious background or affiliation," he said.

He also said that conservation architects, Consarc, is "working to deliver a redevelopment that safeguards the architecture and spirit of the much-loved building".

"The chaplaincy is confident redevelopment will untap the potential of its premises, giving the building and its important mission to students, a new lease of life," he added.

"It will also place them on an equal footing with other Christian chaplaincies at Queen’s, who have been offering student accommodation for a number of decades."

It is hoped that work could begin next summer.

Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Noel Treanor, also said that the "venture is generously supported" by the diocese and "evidences its commitment to invest in the education and general wellbeing of young people".

"Together with a distinguished group of alumni and friends, the diocese is working to safeguard the chaplaincy’s financial sustainability well into the future," he said.

"After the capital outlay for the redevelopment is recouped, any profits will be reinvested in the delivery of world-class faith and pastoral supports to students, the demand for which continues to grow year-on-year. As the chaplaincy marks 50 years on Elmwood Avenue, it is envisioning the future with confidence and embarking on a new and exciting chapter in its partnership with one of Ireland’s oldest and most respected universities."

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