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Ulster University campus relocation will be catalyst for city centre growth, claims planner

Words: Roger Milne
Ulster Univeristy, Belfast campus / Sergey-73 / Shutterstock_1502199305

The arrival of thousands of students to live in Belfast city centre when the new Ulster University campus opens next year will provide a major catalyst for growth, says a senior city council official.

The Cathedral Quarter building is to open next year, four years behind schedule, with courses shifting from the Jordanstown campus.

In total, the new campus will draw 15,000 students into the city. Large-scale development of student accommodation has already been taking place.

Lotus Property last month announced a £55 million block of 724 student flats on the site of a former car park.

Alistair Reid, the council’s strategic director of place and economy, discussed the effects of the movement of students into the city centre during a webinar hosted by law firm Wilson Nesbitt.

Reid said: “Belfast has a real opportunity to grow its city centre and it has a significant set of advantages in the two universities sitting to the north and south of the centre. I believe that a lot of population growth will initially come from the student population.

“That’s something that we’re already starting to see as both universities are looking to the centre for more student accommodation.

“And then, in due course, we’ll see a greater proportion of those students staying on in the city afterwards as they take advantage of its improved economic success and emerging status as a hub for cybersecurity and more.

“Students become couples become families and we’ll be looking to serve all their needs with the provision of more play areas, offices and family-friendly infrastructure over time.”

Belfast City Council aims to increase the city’s population by 66,000 by 2035.

Image credit | Sergey-73 / Shutterstock