Northern Ireland

Belfast Metropolitan College plan: Residents express concern

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBelfast Met put the listed building up for sale after relocating to its new Titanic Quarter campus in 2011

Residents close to Belfast city centre have expressed concern at plans to provide accommodation for 400 students at a former college.

The plans have been announced for the former Belfast Metropolitan College at College Square East.

The building has been sold to a Welsh construction firm.

It wants to complete the student accommodation by the start of the 2016 academic year.

The company has said it is aware of an under-supply of purpose-built accommodation in the city and the ongoing issues in the Holyland area of south Belfast.

However, some people who live beside the old college have said they are worried.

"We'd call on the developers in question to contact us, to start discussions," one woman told the BBC.

"We certainly don't want to be Holyland number two. If they're already referring to the Holyland, that's a bit worrying for us.

"I was a student and I have lived in the Holyland, so I'm well aware of the issues. There are issues with putting groups of young people next door to families."

'Sheer volume of young people'

Another said: "It's the sheer volume of young people between 18 and 22 or 23.

"That sheer volume of people brought into the city centre."

Mark Hackett, from the Forum for Alternative Belfast, said he had concerns about some student accommodation plans, particularly high-rise accommodation in north-west Belfast.

However he added: "Sensitive reuse of historic buildings is to be welcomed.

"This building is at least a little bit more in the city core, there is a little bit of space between it and the residents, although I would share their general concern that it's well-managed.

"We have to welcome people moving back into the city in general terms."

The five-storey Belfast Technical College was built between 1902 and 1906.

The college put the listed building up for sale after relocating to its new Titanic Quarter campus in 2011.

The company that bought it, Watkin Jones & Sons, has still to seek planning permission for the accommodation plan.

More on this story