Little Victoria Street Student Accommodation, Belfast

The Little Victoria Street Project, delivered by McAleer & Rushe and MRP, is an exceptional student accommodation scheme providing 269 studio beds for Vita, a leading purpose-built student accommodation operator, and setting a new benchmark for top-tier quality residences in the heart of Belfast.

The development has been completed to the highest quality standards within a tight 18-month delivery programme to be ready for occupation in September 2023, achieved through the use of innovative construction and supply chain efficiencies.

MRP acquired the site in 2016 and following securing planning consent, McAleer & Rushe promptly mobilised on site to commence construction in January 2022.

Fast track

Construction works began in January 2022 and with a tight programme ahead, the scheme was remarkably completed in August 2023 – a swift construction period for a compact city centre site to deliver a 15-storey building with a traditional brick façade.

Commenting on the tight building schedule, Mark McCormick, Project Director for McAleer & Rushe, stated, “This was a fast-track programme, and logistically the site presented significant challenges which had to be managed extremely carefully. We had only one access route for safe logistics on one side of the site, which was shared with another development for the duration of the project. Early engagement with Belfast City Council was crucial and daily coordination with the neighbouring development was of utmost importance throughout the project’s lifetime to ensure both sites ran efficiently and didn’t negatively impact each other.”

The property is situated on the edge of the Linenhall Conservation Area, also known as the Linen Quarter. It serves as a bridge between South Belfast and the City Centre. Positioned between Queen’s University, Belfast and Ulster University and close to the Weavers Cross regeneration scheme, including the Belfast Grand Central Station – currently under construction – Little Victoria Street is an ideal location for top-notch student accommodation.

Inspired design

The building’s design was carefully crafted to fit into a complex environment. The Linen Quarter features red brick Victorian warehouse buildings, known for their detailed façades which are divided into distinct base, middle and top sections.

McAleer & Rushe’s design reflects this context by incorporating two main parts: a five-storey podium that lines up with Bruce Street, and a 10-storey tower that steps back from the street. This change in shape helps link Bruce Street with the City Centre, while maintaining a lower profile along Bruce Street to match neighbouring warehouses. The total 15-storey height arrangement acknowledges the area’s taller buildings and provides residents with spectacular views of the city and its environment.

Sustainability and Community Engagement

Achieving a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating and an EPC Rating B, the building operates on electric heating and cooling systems. McAleer & Rushe was committed to constructing the building responsibly and sustainably, resulting in 100% of construction waste recycled and driving the use of prefabricated bathroom pods manufactured off-site and all the benefits it can bring – increasing efficiency on site, reducing material deliveries and the associated carbon emissions and reducing site waste. 

It was important to McAleer & Rushe to support the local economy and community through this project and its credentials shine through, from employing 70% of local labour and over £11.8 million spent locally with NI businesses. The project also provided 16 apprenticeship opportunities and the McAleer & Rushe team engaged with 269 young minds to provide curriculum support and promoting the Career opportunities in the Construction industry. McAleer & Rushe have not only built a structure, they’ve woven sustainability and community into its very fabric, leaving a positive lasting impact in the local environment and community.

Commenting on the completed project, Mark said, “The success of this project was possible due to the close collaboration and trust between all project stakeholders including MRP, Vita and Belfast City Council. The high level of quality of the finished product is testament to the expertise of the Design Team and our supply chain, with an incredible amount of effort and dedication from our Management Team on site to deliver within a challenging timeframe.

“The completion of this project was a fantastic achievement which we are very proud of, and it is a true reflection of our extensive experience within the purpose-built student accommodation sector.”

For the full feature on Little Victoria Street, see NIBuilder 34-6 Dec-Jan here.