A £215 million scheme to build a new 21st century student village at Aston University has taken a key step forward with the appointment of consultants for the next stage of the project.
Aston Student Villages today confirmed the appointment of Emprima Limited, Solihull-based construction and economic development consultants, as project managers for the scheme’s £40 million second phase.
The announcement was hailed by Emprima’s managing director, Neil Pountney, as a “tremendous boost” for the construction industry, one of the worst-hit sectors of the current recession.
He added: “The trust’s decision to move towards the second phase of its ambitious programme reflects not only confidence in the ability of the Midlands to bounce back from the recession but also Aston University’s own determination to become one of the country’s top ten universities of the future.
“By continuing with its regeneration policy, the university will also help to provide much needed employment opportunities within the construction industry and its allied trades.”
Emprima, which also specialises in economic development, regeneration, planning and construction consultancy, was, in 2007, awarded the contract to project manage the first phase of the student village project following a competitive process which saw it beat off bids from national rivals.
The £40 million second phase of the project will involve the removal of a number of existing buildings, including two of the existing 1970s high rise accommodation towers in the centre of the university campus, to make way for the construction of two new blocks to the north-west of campus.
Mr Pountney said detailed studies in respect of phase two would commence immediately, with Emprima advising the trust on the appointment of other members of the consultancy team and eventually, building contractors to be chosen by competitive tender from a selected list. Final completion of the scheme in 2013 will enable Aston to be one of the most sustainable university communities in Europe, providing environmentally friendly BREEAM “excellent” rated sustainable buildings, incorporating 2,400 student rooms, all built to high quality standards and with en-suite bathrooms.
The development will also include retail and sports facilities for students together with management offices.
Richard Middleton, a trustee of Aston Student Villages and chief operating officer of Aston University, said: “The first phase of building is providing 1,350 en-suite rooms and will be available for occupation next year.
“However, because the new accommodation will be built before the demolition of the tower blocks there will never be a reduction in the number of rooms available.
“Aston University is very much committed to green buildings and through our campus redevelopment programme we have the opportunity to implement best practice and to push the frontiers forward. We are determined to provide the best possible facilities.”