With the number of students applying to university consistently on the rise, it is no surprise that the student accommodation sector has seen rapid growth over recent years. A key asset class, purpose-built student accommodation is a favourable investment opportunity for funders and developers alike.

However, with many universities having to seek off-site accommodation or re-assessing their existing estate, it is clear there is a lack of supply across the UK and Europe. Whilst known challenges remain surrounding planning permission for new schemes in key locations, rising construction costs and sustainability credentials in the sector, the outlook is positive, and development is still underway.

One example includes a new student accommodation development, awarded to the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure, UPP. The proposal for the scheme at University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, includes the development of approximately 1,700 new student rooms over a 15-acre site with the construction of eight new blocks, along with the redevelopment of 290 existing rooms. When the proposed plans are seen to completion, this will be one of the largest Passivhaus schemes in the student housing sector.

Holding a successful relationship of over six years, we are delighted to be helping our client, UPP, offering our access consultancy service to ensure inclusion is at the heart of the development. Access consultancy was an integral part of this bid, providing inclusive design guidance to UPP and their design team, and developing the inclusive design strategy submitted as part of the bid. Following the success of the bid, we have begun working on the detailed design process alongside UPP and their design team, developing the bid stage strategy through design development for statutory approvals, procurement, and construction, onto completion.

Inclusivity is at the core of our access consultancy service, and proactive clients such as UPP, who involve us in projects from the early stages, allow us to ensure inclusive design is on the agenda from day one. Not only does it enable inclusive design to be captured early and incorporated into the scheme from the offset, it also avoids the disruption and costs involved with trying to make things fit later in the design stage, or having to make costly alterations after completion.

Senior Associate and Head of access consultancy, Shaun Miller, says “Our involvement throughout the delivery of the scheme ensures there is a consistent champion for inclusive design from start to finish. It is our job to ensure elements of the strategy are not inadvertently lost through design development and construction, whilst providing a sounding board for the client and design team. As access consultants and building surveyors, we understand how people respond to buildings, their varying needs (from ages to abilities to neurodiversity) and how buildings can better respond to them. I am delighted we can assist UPP in this leading project.”

Inclusivity and access for all was an integral part of the bid, and something that has been developed over recent years working with UPP on other previous University of Exeter schemes, including Moberly, Spreytonway and East Park at the Streatham Campus.

If you would like to know how we can help you in the student accommodation sector, or with our access consultancy service, do not hesitate to get in touch with sector lead, Steve Hughes, or service lead, Shaun Miller.