First look inside new flats for city's students
A DEVELOPER has unveiled a £12 million accommodation block in Derby, designed to cater for the city's rising student population.
This week, Watkin Jones Group showed off the first completed rooms at the development in Brook Street, alongside Markeaton Brook.
The rooms are the first of 405 flats in the development, known as Darley Bank, on the site of an old builders' merchant's premises.
As well as the flats, which will be priced from £99 per week, the building has shared lounges, kitchens, a launderette and wi-fi connection.
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The site is close to two halls of residence – Sir Peter Hilton Court, across Markeaton Brook, and Princess Alice Court, in Bridge Street.
Watkin Jones first revealed the plan to build the student accommodation in April, 2010. It was in response to the rising number of students at the University of Derby, although the university has had no involvement in the project.
But the plans prompted objections from local residents who raised concerns about noise, litter and car parking problems. They were also opposed by the city's conservation area advisory committee, which said the height of the buildings would have an effect on the setting and nearby listed buildings.
But planning officers at Derby City Council said the site was within the designated university district and recommended the development be approved.
Despite dozens of objections and a petition drawn up against the proposals, the scheme was given the go-ahead by councillors in October, 2010. In August last year, Watkin Jones applied for permission to increase the number of flats from 389 to 405, which was granted.
The Welsh developer has extensive experience of building student accommodation.
Since 1999, it has created more than 20,000 student units at university sites nationwide, including Sheffield, Bedford and Wolverhampton. The company is now hoping to complete all of the Derby flats by August, in time to welcome students for the start of the academic year in September.
According to Fresh Student Living, which will be managing the building, 25% of the rooms have already been taken.
Managing director Rebecca Hopewell said: "Darley Bank gives the 20,000 students at the University of Derby additional choice in where they will live. With all-inclusive rent, on-site reception and maintenance staff it is not only a bright and modern place to live, but it's safe, secure and great value."
Alex Pease, investment director at Watkin Jones Group, said: "We're delighted with the uptake. The flats are in a great location.
"The standard of student accommodation has moved on. We are confident that this development will be popular with students and will provide a boost for businesses in the area."