Matthew Neville

Construction begins on £29.5m student accommodation scheme north of Leeds city centre

Student accommodation specialist Alumno Group and Heitman LLC, a global real estate investment management firm, have begun to regenerate a disused site in Whitelock Street, north of Leeds city centre, with the start of construction on its latest development to support the city’s growing student population.

The development, valued at £29.5m, has been designed by Durham based architecture practice, Howarth Litchfield, which has worked with Alumno from pre-planning stage on proposals to demolish several vacant buildings on the site in preparation for its full re-development.

Built over six and seven storeys with a gross internal area of 11,840sqm, the 411-bed building with ground floor commercial and cultural uses, is of a substantially brick facing design and features storey height windows and deep reveals with feature brick detailing.

It 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. It will be run by a local non-profit organisation.

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

Howarth Litchfield was appointed lead architect for the project after submitting a competitive tender and was ideally qualified to undertake the commission following the success of its work on an earlier 420-bed student scheme for Alumno at Sheraton Park, Durham.

Howarth Litchfield’s managing director, architect, Jonathan Yates, said: “We have collaborated closely with the Alumno team from the outset, and following a successful planning outcome, we were subsequently novated to provide a D&B role throughout the construction programme following GMI Construction’s appointment as preferred contractor in April 2021.

“We are absolutely delighted to be involved again on such a notable student accommodation scheme with Alumno, who are well known for their high quality - high yield PBSA projects. Also, 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.”

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