A South Belfast MLA has called on the Communities Minister to look at closing the gap between the cost of accommodation in the Holyland area and purpose-built student housing.
Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw has raised the redevelopment of brownfield sites with Deirdre Hargey in the Assembly and said she wants to get students into this type of accommodation.
Minister Hargey has said she wants to look at housing in the Holyland area and scope out why purpose-built accommodation is not the first option for many students.
But Ms Bradshaw said while she would welcome this assessment, it is clear more affordable, quality housing is needed for students.
She told Belfast Live: “I have seen cities across the UK and Ireland transformed through positive engagement between universities, student accommodation providers and branches of government, to redevelop brownfield sites and disused buildings, thereby providing secure student housing while also revitalising those parts of cities that have lost investment.
“These sites also tend to be away from settled residential communities, such as the Holyland, and therefore prevent the clash between people at different stages of their lives.”
Ms Bradshaw added: “We have seen this in those new accommodation blocks around the expanded Ulster University campus in North Belfast and I would like to more of these across the city.
“I believe that increased supply of this type of student housing will lead to a reduction in the cost as they compete more for tenants; and, in turn, would reduce the difference between the rent with HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) units, as has been the traditional provision here.”
Last week, Minister Hargey told MLAs: “One of the areas that we want to look at is a focused subgroup as part of the (Holyland strategic) partnership group looking at housing more broadly in that area. That would include student housing.
“The universities manage and own some housing schemes that have come forward. A lot of other schemes are owned by private sector investors. There is obviously an issue.
“We do not know all the reasons for it, but there has been an increase in students going into purpose-built accommodation this year. That could be as a result of the pandemic and parents wanting them to be placed there, but it could also be an issue around affordability.
“We are going to scope out why that is not the first option for many of the students who then choose to live in the Holylands, so we want to do that assessment. We want to engage with students and their unions to look at those issues.
” Belfast City Council will be involved in that, along with the existing providers in Belfast that manage accommodation. That will be part of the work as we progress, as well as looking at any policy or legislative changes that would enhance that.”
To get the latest breaking news straight to your inbox, sign up to our free newsletter.
Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/south-belfast-mla-calls-redevelopment-21965761