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Long-awaited Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan puts a smile on investors’ faces
September 15, 2014Article by Charlotte Ashton
The news that Belfast’s long-awaited Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) has been approved by environment minister Mark H Durkan has been well received by investors. The planning framework covers an area of greater Belfast that includes the outlying areas of Carrickfergus, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and North Down and will affect some 40% of the Northern Ireland population.
Putting BMAP into operation
The BMAP incorporates zoning for residential as well as retail and commercial development and has thus been welcomed by investors from a range of backgrounds. Environment minister Durkan comments,
“This is much needed and will be integral in attracting more investment into Northern Ireland.
“It’s going to create certainty for investors, it’s going to create certainty for communities, it’s going to create certainty for social housing providers and ordinary housing providers.”
One such housing provider, property specialists Property Frontiers, who are currently offering 56 one and two bedroom luxury apartments and duplexes at The Sandford in Belfast as buy-to-let investments, was pleased to hear that BMAP had finally become operational. Chief Executive Ray Withers explains,
“Uncertainty is never good when it comes to urban development plans and so it’s great to see that BMAP is finally being put into action, after so many delays. The news means that investors in projects such as The Sandford can take comfort in the knowledge that Belfast is a forward-thinking and progressive city when it comes to regional development.”
The BMAP’s impact will be extensive. The plan covers two cities, eight towns and 76 smaller communities. It lays out plans for 63,000 new homes over the coming decade and has already cost in the region of £3m to develop.
The BMAP has not been without its opponents, partly due to its aim to promote Belfast as the region’s leading shopping centre. Some out-of-town shopping developments have therefore been limited, creating a degree of controversy for those living in the affected areas. For those living in Belfast though, the flip side is that their city will become a leading shopping destination through a structured and carefully map out development process.
Of course for individuals investing in Belfast’s new projects, such as the luxury residential accommodation at The Sandford, the BMAP’s impact in relation to shopping is a positive one. By driving Belfast forward as a global destination, the BMAP will support the growth of the property sector and support the increase of property prices and rents – something that is bound to make every buy-to-let investor in the city happy!