Jordanstown to be 'urban village' as university decamps to Belfast

Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 00:00

The University of Ulster is to sell more than 100 acres of its Jordanstown campus on the northern outskirts of Belfast as part of the college’s plan to move much of its operations to Belfast city centre.

The university plans to move six of its faculties to the new £250 million enlarged Belfast campus, which is to open in 2018, leaving just sports educational facilities at Jordanstown, along with a specialist engineering facility and student halls.

The college is proposing to dispose of 102 acres of its 170-acre campus at Jordanstown to allow developers create an “urban village” of between 500-700 houses. At the height of the boom this prime land overlooking Belfast Lough was valued at £1 million an acre.

It would not realise anything like a £100 million return at the moment but the college authorities are hoping that when the land is sold on a staggered basis in 2018 that the recession will be over and property values will have risen substantially again. The money accrued will be used to help pay for the new Belfast campus.

The University of Ulster will spend £6.2 million enhancing its sports facilities at Jordanstown, with a new sports hall adjacent to the £13 million High Performance Centre opened by Lord Coe in 2008. Its users have included Northern Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes, the Ulster rugby squad, the Ireland cricket team, leading soccer and county club GAA squads and European Tour golfers.

The Jordanstown “masterplan” will involve the relocation of sports pitches closer to the sports centre and the retention of FireSERT, where the Institute of Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology carries out internationally recognised research into fire safety science.

The sports centre will also include teaching and learning and research facilities. The Dalriada student village will be retained. The development will see the student population at Jordanstown reducing from 12,500 to 1,000. This will lead to the new Belfast campus catering for some 13,000 full and part-time students.

Massive transformation

It will involve a massive transformation of the area with most of the million square footage of building at Jordanstown being demolished. The planned urban village centre will also comprise retail and commercial accommodation.

The faculties that will shift to Belfast are: arts; art design and the built environment; computing and engineering; life and health sciences; social sciences; and the Ulster business school.

The university’s vice chancellor, Prof Richard Barnett, said the college had “been a part of the Jordanstown landscape for 40 years and will continue to be an important part of the landscape in years to come”.

“It is because of that long association with the area that the university is keen to retain its links through the further development of our world-class sports facilities and the retention of our FireSERT research facility while also triggering development that is sensitive to the needs and character of the local community,” he added.

The University of Ulster held a consultation meeting with locals yesterday to discuss the Jordanstown masterplan.

The college authorities said access routes to the new village centre would be improved, with pedestrian and cycles also catered for. They said when the village was completed there would be less traffic due to the transfer of students to Belfast.

The existing campus in Jordanstown, top, which is to be redeveloped, and an artist’s impression of the new campus in Belfast city centre

University of Ulster factfile

It has campuses in Belfast; Jordanstown; Coleraine in Co Derry; and Magee in Derry City.

Its chancellor is the Coleraine actor James Nesbitt.

Its 3,000 staff include Nobel laureate Prof Bert Sakmann.

The £250 million development will be 70,000 square metres on York Street and Frederick Street stretching up to North Queen Street.

Alumni include writer and former hostage Brian Keenan, poet Gerald Dawe and rugby international Tommy Bowe.

It has 24,000 full-time and part-time students.

Over 1,000 of its students are from the Republic .