Northside project: Major regeneration plan for Belfast city centre
Plans for a major regeneration of the northern edge of Belfast city centre have been unveiled by a development consortium.
The Northside project could see the development of up to 3,000 apartments and houses, mainly for students.
It is a partnership between developer Kevin McKay, global construction firm Balfour Beatty and Northern Ireland's Department for Social Development.
The Northside site is an area between Royal Avenue and Carrick Hill.
It is adjacent to the new University of Ulster campus.
Most of the properties in the project area are controlled by Mr McKay and government departments.
There will be discussion with other landowners in the area but some properties, particularly on North Street, may have to be compulsorily purchased.
The scheme will have a mix of uses including managed student accommodation, private housing, social housing and retail.
It is thought a social housing element will be constructed on a site off Clifton Street.
It will be the biggest private sector development in Belfast since the construction of the Victoria Square shopping centre.
The consortium has said it will represent an investment of up to £300m, directly providing employment for more than 600 construction workers.
Balfour Beatty is financing the project and acting as contractor, though the firm is likely to form a joint venture with a Northern Ireland-based construction firm.
Ian Woosey, director of development at Balfour Beatty, said the University of Ulster development had "provided the stimulus" for the project.
He added that the consortium was "committed to maximising the significant economic social and cultural benefits that will flow from the development of an urban village".
"At the core of these plans are people, those who already live and work in and around the area, as well as those who will become new residents."
A collaboration agreement, setting out the respective roles and responsibilities of DSD and the two private firms, has been signed.
Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said that while the final detail of the scheme had yet to be agreed, he believes it will tackle "dereliction and neglect" in the area.
He said that it had "the potential to not only change the north of the city but will have wider benefits for Northern Ireland as a whole."
The next stage of the process will be a community consultation process followed by the development of detailed proposals for the design of the buildings.
Mr McKay's companies already have planning permission for buildings in the area that are 11 storeys in height.
It is thought the maximum height of buildings in the development will be a similar height.
A public exhibition of the project's initial proposals is due to go on display later this month.
It will be held at Belfast Central Library, Royal Avenue, from Monday 20 October until Saturday 25 October.