Posted on Friday 8 March 2013 by Ulster Business
Professor Barnett was commenting after Belfast City Council's Town Planning Committee unanimously backed Environment Minister Alex Attwood's recommendation that the planning application for the new city campus be approved.
The Vice-Chancellor said: "The University of Ulster is delighted that both central and local government have given their approval for this significant investment in higher education, the future of Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole.
"The granting of planning permission for the £250m Belfast City Campus will usher in a thrilling new chapter in the development of the University, the city and the region - providing a state of the art teaching and learning facility for future students and a first rate centre for research and innovation in the heart of the city."
The campus, known as the Greater Belfast Development (GBD), will be based in York Street. When operational it will have in the region of 11,290 full time equivalent students and around 1280 staff.
The GBD is to include three new buildings at Frederick Street / York Street, Donegal Street and Great Patrick Street, a new foot bridge and minor works to the existing university building at York Street. Also included in the proposal are public realm improvements to York Lane.
Professor Barnett said the University was anxious to ensure that the entire city and province benefits economically, socially and culturally from the development - especially those communities bordering the campus.
"This will be an open and accessible campus without iron gates or surrounding walls. We are keen that the entire community views this as their building, as their gateway into the city centre and not just the preserve of academics and students," he said.
"The University would like to thank Environment Minister Alex Attwood and his officials in the Department of the Environment's Planning Division for ensuring this substantial planning application was dealt with within a year," he added.
"We would also like to thank the Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry and officials in his Department, which has given the University £16m towards the campus, for their ongoing support and we would like to thank councillors and officials in Belfast City Council, Assembly members, the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and officials in the Department for Social Development and ministers and officials in other Northern Ireland departments for their ongoing and resolute support."
Belfast city councillors upheld a recommendation by the Environment Minister and his officials that an associated planning application for a mixed use development in Frederick Street, including multi-storey car parking, be rejected.
Professor Barnett responded: "The issue of car parking is an important issue which the University, working with our partners in government, in the city council and the surrounding community, will have to address."