Building work on Aston University’s new £215 million student residences project got off to a flying start this week after Sir Michael Bett, the University’s Chancellor, and Professor Julia King, its Vice-Chancellor, joined invited guests for an official ‘sod-cutting’ ceremony on campus.

The Aston Student Village project (ASV)* will see the complete regeneration of the University’s student accommodation as part of the ‘Aston Triangle’ masterplan and is scheduled to complete by 2014.

The development, which is being backed by Halifax Bank of Scotland’s Corporate Housing Finance team, will see 2,400 new student rooms built on campus, with most of Aston’s existing student residences being replaced as part of the scheme. There will eventually be over 3,000 en-suite student bedrooms on campus, enabling the University to continue to offer high quality accommodation to all first years and international students, and to increase the number of rooms available to final year students, who often find it valuable to live back on campus during their last year of study.

The environmentally sustainable development is being project managed by Emprima Ltd and will also include shops, sports facilities and an underground car park.

The residential blocks will use the latest energy-efficient materials and systems, and also benefit from environmentally-friendly features such as green roofs, wind turbines, a Combined Heat and Power Plant and rain water recycling.

The £57 million first phase of the Project will see Carillion plc build two residential blocks on the south side of campus, providing 1,300 high-specification, en – suite bedrooms. Phase I will also deliver an all-weather sports pitch, 240 car parking spaces and the relocation of chaplaincy facilities. Lewis and Hickey is the architectural practice behind the project, which is due for completion in 2010.

Phase I will be followed immediately by Phase II of the project. This will see the removal of Aston University’s 1960s residential towers, and the construction of two new, modern blocks to the west of campus. This will provide a further 1,100 en-suite rooms.

Sir Michael Bett, Aston’s Chancellor, said: ‘I was delighted to be able to attend the official ‘sod-cutting’ ceremony for the new Residences Project. The scale and nature of this project is testament to the ambition of the University. I am very pleased that the months of planning and negotiations are at an end and am looking forward to the completion of the project when our students will benefit from some of the very best facilities at any university in the UK.’

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, continued: ‘Student satisfaction is hugely important to us, and the new ‘student village’ will provide students with a great place to live, right in the centre of an exciting city. This is a critical development for Aston, as part of our strategy to develop the campus as a 21st Century physical and information environment, supporting our core mission of learning and teaching, research, and community engagement. It is exciting to see the building work underway.’

Guppy Dhariwal, Director of Finance at Aston, added: ‘I am pleased that we have now finalised the contractual negotiations and commenced construction of Phase 1. Once completed, the residences project will give Aston an enviable mix of outstanding accommodation and facilities, which, added to the high quality provision of teaching and research, will help to make the University even more attractive to prospective students.’

Stakeholders in the project are:
• Operon Design Ltd
• Lewis & Hickey Ltd
• EC Harris LLP
• Clark Bond Ltd
• Carillion Construction
• Operon FM
• Hickton Ltd
• Carillion Specialist Services
• Robinson Low Francis
• Mills & Reeve

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