Saanich council has given preliminary approval for the construction of a massive new student housing project at the University of Victoria.

The district approved a development variance permit for the project Monday, paving the way for the construction of two new residence buildings – one eight storeys and one 11 storeys – on the UVic campus at 3800 Finnerty Road.

The project will add 783 student housing beds to campus, with 162 of those replacing existing beds and 621 bringing additional capacity.

One of the new buildings will be located south of the Student Union Building on the campus's Ring Road, requiring the demolition of the Emily Carr Residence and the Margaret Newton Residence. This new building will feature a new dining hall on the main floor and will be constructed first.

The second building will replace the Cadboro Commons building and will include conference, meeting and academic space on the main floor.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $201 million, with $123 million financed by the province.

Both buildings are expected to be completed in early 2023.