Funding agreed for £190 million student accommodation project

The next stage of a £190 million student accommodation scheme for the University of Hertfordshire has been given the green light.

It will be delivered by Uliving – the consortium of housing provider Derby-based Derwent Living and Bouygues Development.

Bouygues Development will be responsible for the design, build, finance and operation of 3,000 bedrooms, with social space and roads on the site at the College Lane campus in Hatfield – while Derwent Living will take care of on-going operations and facilities management.

It is one of the most ambitious projects that Derwent Living has been involved in to date, says the organisation’s chief executive Peter McCormack.

He said: “This is a really exciting project and will see the accommodation lead the market in terms of sustainability and represents a first in the education sector. The new buildings will achieve a true zero carbon accreditation and meet BREEAM Outstanding requirements under the 2011 regulations.

“Derwent Living’s role is to look after the operational and facilities management of this large multi-phase development. Our organisation has a proven track record of working on large student accommodation schemes throughout the UK and the University of Hertfordshire is one of the largest schemes we have worked on to date. I am delighted that once again through the use of innovative funding we will be able to deliver state of the art accommodation at such a prestigious university.”

Multi-national property and services firm Bouygues, as part of Uliving, will take responsibility for the development and construction management of the project. Derwent Living will take over the operational side under a contract which will begin straight away to cover existing student accommodation and is for a total period of 50 years.

The construction involves the development of more than 2500 student rooms, and will be carried out by Bouygues UK under a contract worth around £117 million. Facilities and asset management for the new and 500 existing units will be fulfilled under a contract worth more than £200 million over its lifetime.

The scheme will be delivered in three phases with the first phase starting immediately and completing in September 2014 in time for new 2014/15 academic year.

This week it was announced that Uliving has secured funding to deliver the multi-million pound project which will be provided through an index linked private bond, a first for the UK student accommodation sector. Equity partners in the scheme are Centro Place Investments – part of the Derwent Living group, Meridiam Infrastructure Finance II, Bouygues Development, University of Hertfordshire and Legal and General Assurance Society.

Nicolas Guerin, MD of Bouygues Development and Ulving, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. This is the first time a deal such as this has been achieved in the UK. The success is attributed to the hard work and dedication of the whole team over many months.

“For Uliving, this reinforces our market position as a UK leading student accommodation provider and we are proud to be in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire in delivering this state-of-the-art scheme with them.”

Each phase will be completed in time for the start of the following academic year with the entire scheme expected to finish in September 2016. Construction works will run alongside the existing accommodation units which will be in operation throughout.

In addition to the main construction and refurbishment works, there will be new sports pitches, a campus gym, informal learning and social spaces and a new dedicated bus route.