The Chancellor of the University of London, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, officially opened the University’s new flagship halls of residence, Garden Halls, on 25 January 2017.
The newly redeveloped halls replace the student accommodation that once stood on the Cartwright Gardens site. The complete reconstruction of the halls and refurbishment of the Hughes Parry Tower began in 2014 following an extensive consultation process and planning approval the previous year. This new building stands as an example of modern student accommodation.
Students living in these halls have the enjoyment and benefits of quality accommodation close to where they study, in an area renowned for culture and knowledge. The £140m building offers 1,200 purpose-built rooms to suit students’ varying requirements, from self-catered townhouses to en-suite catered accommodation. The multifunctional common rooms and open courtyards offer bright and inviting spaces to study and relax. The halls also play a central role in the community with local residents able to enjoy the newly landscaped gardens and tennis courts.
A partnership was formed with University Partnerships Programme (UPP) to finance the scheme over a 50-year period, thus enabling the University to free up its resources to improve student services and to focus investment on teaching and research. This multi-million pound development is part of a wider programme by the university to grow its accommodation provision to meet the needs of future generations of students.
The architectural quality and environmental performance of the building have greatly improved. The halls, designed by leading architects, tp bennett LLP and Maccreanor Lavington, are in keeping with the character of the local area and fit well in the Georgian garden square. Garden Halls has achieved an ‘Excellent' BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating, and students will be encouraged to engage in sustainable living as part of the University’s plans to continue cutting carbon emissions.
Her Royal Highness toured the building and met students from across the world, all of whom will be studying at one of the University’s member institutions. She then attended a reception in the new high-spec meeting rooms to meet key people involved with the project. The event closed with the unveiling, by The Princess Royal, of a plaque to be positioned at the halls’ entrance.
The opening was a significant occasion for students, staff and stakeholders alike. Not only did it mark the completion of the building and years of hard work and collaboration, but also the beginning of a new chapter for the halls’ first cohort of intercollegiate students.
Chris Cobb, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer said “The transformation at Cartwright Gardens is truly astounding. This is a landmark development that is focused on the student experience providing state of the art, quality accommodation in the heart of London just a stone’s throw from many of the University’s member institutions.
“Today’s unveiling by the University’s Chancellor is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by countless people across many different organisations. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all, particularly staff at the University and at UPP. This is a day when everyone can feel a sense of pride in what has been achieved.”
Sean O’Shea, Group Chief Executive Officer of UPP added: “We are delighted to have completed our flagship Garden Halls development - setting a new bar for student accommodation in the heart of our capital city. Having worked in partnership with the University of London since 2013, we are proud to have delivered this important project that offers exceptional architectural quality and modern facilities through leveraging private investment into the HE sector.”