Construction begins on £29m student scheme

Work has started on a £29.5m student accommodation development, north of Leeds city centre.

Alumno Group, a student accommodation specialist, and Heitman LLC, a global real estate investment management firm, have begun to regenerate a disused site in Whitelock Street.

GMI Construction was appointed as preferred contractor for the project in April last year.

The development has been designed by Durham-based architecture practice, Howarth Litchfield, which has worked with Alumno from pre-planning stage on proposals to demolish vacant buildings on the site in preparation for its full re-development.

Built over six and seven-storeys with an internal area of 127,400 sq ft, the 411-bed building will contain a mixture of cluster flats and studios, including ten accessible bedrooms, an entrance hub with communal space, offices, a meeting room, laundry and gym.

At ground floor level there is also flexible gallery and studio space which will be used to support local artists and will feature workshops, a kiln and exhibition area.

At roof level there is a terrace with a biodiversity area featuring further communal study spaces and a cinema room.

Howarth Litchfield’s managing director, architect Jonathan Yates, said: “We are pleased to be involved again on such a notable student accommodation scheme with Alumno, who are well known for their high quality, high yield Purpose Built Student Accommodation projects.

“From a planning perspective, it is satisfying to be able to bring a disused site back to life in an up-and-coming area of the city.”

David Lindsay, Alumno’s development manager, said: “Alumno strives to shape communities with innovative student accommodation schemes that really raise the bar for student living.

“This is no exception with its public art space on the ground floor, which we see as being a tremendous asset to the local community as well as adding interest for visitors and the students who live there.”

Andrew Hurcomb, divisional managing director of GMI Construction Group, added: “We are proud to continue our relationship with Alumno with this latest project, which will be a significant part of supporting Leeds’ growing position as a major university city.

“After completing the first three months of the 80-week build programme, which were spent demolishing the three existing buildings, we have now laid the concrete foundations and are commencing with the piling for the new development, which will contribute to the ongoing regeneration of this area of Leeds.”

RPS, a global professional services firm, was responsible for submitting the planning application and has been appointed project manager, cost consultant, principal designer and BREEAM assessor.