Watkin Jones breaks ground at The Loft Lines BTR scheme

Celebrating the milestone yesterday, Watkin Jones breaks ground at The Loft Lines - the first Build to Rent scheme in Northern Ireland.

The Loft Lines Build to Rent development, Titanic Quarter, Belfast | BTR News
The Loft Lines Build to Rent development, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Watkin Jones, in partnership with Lacuna Developments and contractor Graham, has started works at The Loft Lines Titanic Quarter in Belfast, the first Build to Rent scheme in Northern Ireland. The milestone was marked by a breaking ground ceremony held yesterday to celebrate progress made on this iconic site. Attendees included representatives from Belfast City Council.

“Watkin Jones has a strong track record of developing large regeneration sites and we are delighted to bring the first Build to Rent scheme to the city of Belfast. Titanic Quarter is developing an area that is steeped in rich history, transforming this brownfield site into a thriving place to live and acting as a catalyst for wider regeneration.

“The development is being brought to fruition by a partnership approach between all stakeholders and funders and we are grateful for the genuine collaboration we have experienced with our partners. This event demonstrates the progress the teams are making for the city of Belfast.”

George Dyer, Group Investment Director, Watkin Jones

Forward funded by Legal & General, The Loft Lines will deliver 627 Build to Rent homes alongside 151 affordable homes – a mix of studios to three-bedroom apartments that will appeal to a range of people including families and young professionals. The scheme will also deliver social homes for Clanmil Housing Association.

Amenities at The Loft Lines includes lounges, cinema rooms, sports and recreational spaces and children’s play areas.

“At Clanmil we provide homes for people to live well, and we are delighted to be part of The Loft Lines, bringing 81 new social rented homes to Titanic Quarter for people who need them.

“Northern Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis with the highest waiting lists for over a decade. These new social homes, delivered with support from the Department of Communities and NIHE, will help address this growing need, whilst also supporting Northern Ireland’s construction industry and helping to boost our economy.

“We look forward to welcoming residents who will be able to enjoy all the benefits of city centre living within a vibrant new waterfront community.”

Carol McTaggart, Group Chief Executive, Clanmil Housing
Breaking ground ceremony at The Loft Lines, Belfast | BTR News
Breaking ground ceremony at The Loft Lines, Belfast. L-R: Alex Pease, Interim CEO of Watkin Jones; John Godfrey, Director of Levelling up, Legal & General; Grainia Long, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Housing Executive; and Carol McTaggart, Group Chief Executive of Clanmil Housing Association.

Embodying a ‘resident first’ approach, pedestrians and cyclists have been prioritised over the use of cars within the development’s designs – which also supports the city’s aim to reduce its carbon footprint. Further sustainable feature includes the use of air source heat pumps.

“It is widely accepted that greater investment in our regional towns and cities, particularly to deliver new homes, is needed. As our first scheme in Northern Ireland, this is an important and significant step. We strongly believe in the power of pensions capital and the role it plays in accelerating investment-led economic growth and unlocking much-needed regeneration in all parts of the UK. We hope The Loft Lines scheme will do just that for the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter, the local economy, and broader community of Belfast; we’re delighted to mark the start of its journey.”

John Godfrey, Director of Levelling up, Legal & General

Within walking distance to the city centre, residents at the Loft Lines scheme are close to the range of amenities and leisure facilities Belfast has to offer. They also benefit from good railway links to Dublin and Belfast City airport, which is under three miles away.

“Lacuna Developments has been very active in Belfast over the last seven years developing residential led schemes. It is fantastic for Lacuna, alongside our development partners, to see Graham on site bringing this development to life.

“We are also leading the way in bringing forward another first for the city in Build to Rent, social and affordable housing at The Loft Lines. Along with public realm, retail for the wider TQ community and a creche which the scheme will deliver, it is hugely exciting to be involved in the event.”

Anthony Best, Managing Director, Lacuna Developments
The entire team at the breaking ground ceremony at The Loft Lines | BTR News
The entire team at the breaking ground ceremony at The Loft Lines.

Located on Queen’s Island, The Loft Lines will help to further catalyse the regeneration of this area, on a site that was previously part of the world-famous Harland and Wolff shipbuilding company. The development will transform the current brownfield site into a new urban riverside residential community which will provide a significant boost to the local economy.

“We are delighted to see the first step in the innovative Loft Lines development, which is further progress in ensuring that local people in Belfast have access to affordable housing. We have engaged with both Belfast Harbour and the developer of The Loft Lines from early stages of the development proposals.

“Through the planning process, approximately 10% of the properties of the development have been secured as social rented homes. In practice this means 81 much-needed homes for a range of households, which will be delivered by Clanmil Housing.

“In effect, this development is helping to build stronger communities for local people. The Belfast Agenda sets an ambitious target to increase the number of homes available in Belfast city centre. It is hugely positive to see affordable housing being delivered as part of a mixed use, mixed tenure regeneration project of such strategic significance for the city.”

Grainia Long, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Housing Executive