Student accommodation firm to press ahead with £73m development

Accommodation firm Unite Students is to build a 500-bed scheme at a key Bristol location.

The Freestone Island development, in Bristol Temple Quarter, has total development costs of £73m, and is set to open in time for the 2026/27 academic year.

Unite is working with the University of Bristol through a nomination agreement on the property, which will guarantee rooms for the university’s students.

Temple Quarter, in the heart of Bristol, is one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects – with 130 hectares of land being redeveloped to create a mixed-use community that includes office and commercial space, as well as pedestrianised green areas, alongside Unite Students’ student housing.

The Quarter will be a key contributor to the West of England’s economy by creating new homes, jobs and generating income for the local area.

Unite Students’ development, which has received full planning approval, will be close to its 600-bed Marsh Mills site, on Feeder Road, and the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, where up to 4,600 students will be based on completion. The new development will provide 4,500 sq ft of affordable workspace and will be BREEAM Excellent with EPC Ratings of A across the scheme.

The approval adds to initial planning committee approval for a landmark 952-bed Unite Students property in east London.

The Stratford development, next to Meridian Steps near Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, is targeted to complete in 2028, with full planning permission expected later this year. The construction of a new entrance and exit to Stratford Underground Station is also part of the plans.

Tom Brewerton, group development director at Unite Students, said: “Bristol is one of the most undersupplied markets in the UK for purpose-built student accommodation with two strong universities and limited availability of land for this type of accommodation. Our Freestone Island project provides Unite Students with the opportunity to grow further in the city by providing high quality, value for money rooms for our students and university partners. We look forward to starting the construction phase as swiftly as possible and delivering the scheme in time for the 2026/27 academic year.

“As the leading provider of PBSA in the UK, we are trusted by parents, students and universities to provide quality, safe and affordable accommodation that supports the entire university experience and are committed to delivering our record development pipeline to meet this demand.”