For this month’s Area Profile, I’m taking a look at the Botanic area of Belfast; a large chunk of the city’s student heartland, roughly bordered by University Road, University Avenue, Ormeau Road and Lower Crescent onto Cromwell Street.
We’ll not be looking at the area known widely as the ‘Holylands’, including Agincourt Avenue, Carmel Street, Jerusalem Street etc. It’s a very specific slice of the market and one we'll look at in a future article.
Botanic Avenue and the area around it is, of course, a classic area for HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy) and commercial properties – this should come as no surprise with Queen’s University Belfast slap bang in the middle of it.
QUB and the student culture that surrounds it dominates the area, and businesses reflect this (lots of coffee shops, bookstores, pubs, quirky second hand clothing outlets). Its fashionable profile and popularity is reflected in property prices too – at the time of writing, we couldn’t find a single property going for under £90,000 in this area!
Botanic Avenue is vibrant and fashionable, popular with students and young professionals.
What’s driving these prices up? Good old supply and demand; there is simply not enough housing, despite QUB building more and more.
The deficit hasn’t gone unnoticed by the property companies who specialise in student accommodation. They have eyed this situation keenly.
So, what a property investor wants to know is: how will this affect property prices in Belfast’s Botanic area? We don’t think house prices are likely to go down. Given the proximity to Queen’s University, to South Belfast and Belfast city centre, this area will remain popular with professionals, students and young people alike.
Even if more student-specific accommodation is made available, there will still be significant demand for private rentals, including small/micro apartments and HMOs.
Word on the streets
Lower and Upper Crescent
These are beautiful properties overlooking a glorious private park that have been allowed to lie empty and fall into disrepair. However, regeneration is on the way – Tesco have bought what was The Elms Bar round the corner on University Road, and the Methodist Church opposite is set to become a Wetherspoons Bar soon.
Most of these properties have been used as offices and are crying out to be converted to high-end residential accommodation. A smart investor will keep an eye on the building beside the Moravian Church on University Road (it used to be University Graphics) – if that was converted into rental apartments, they would be snapped up.
Hot off the press
We hear whispers the owners of 20 Mount Charles may be considering selling. This street is a little gentrified oasis, just off Botanic Gardens (near Scalini’s restaurant) and is of a similar calibre to properties in better parts of London.
It comes with 6 car parking spaces and, subject to planning, could be converted to be a truly excellent family home or mixed development.
Many professionals would happily live there, and this is another area likely to benefit from that commercial regeneration on University Road.
Mount Charles, as viewed from Botanic Avenue
Apartment 14 Rugby Square, on the market for £155,000. Ground floor flat in an immaculate gated development, so one for the well-heeled young professional. It was let until the end of October for £675 a month. After rates and service charges, annual rental income is £6275, so a yield of just over 4%.
BT7 Housing Tenure and Occupancy