Two Plymouth office blocks become student flats in £5m investment

By WILLIAM TELFORD /  Business Editor@WTelfordHerald

WORK is speeding along on the first phase of a £5million double investment into student flats in Plymouth city centre.

An unnamed British investment company has ploughed just over £3million into buying and revamping Tamar House, at St Andrew’s Cross.

The building contains tenants, including the main city centre post office, but it is the upper five floors where the transformation is taking place.

The building, which used to be open plan offices but has lain empty for at least three years, is being turned into high-spec student accommodation.

Construction work started six months ago, and the first phase, which comprises three floors, is expected to be completed in the next few weeks and is due to open in April.

The building is currently encased in scaffolding while dozens of construction workers turn it into a hive of activity.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the St Andrew’s Cross roundabout, the Royal building has also been bought by the same company and is also being transformed in a £2million scheme, with upper floors becoming accommodation and commercial tenants, such as Buffet City, on the ground floor.

It is due to welcome its first students in time for the autumn term this year.

Once completed the flats will be managed by Clever Student Lets, which is already looking after about 700 student rooms in Plymouth.

Clever Student Lets director Henry Hutchins said the first phase at Tamar House will see creation of 70 studio apartments.

When the other two floors are completed in phase two, the entire building will house 130 flats, self-contained rooms containing kitchen and en-suite facilities.

With rooms at Tamar being rented from £149 a week, and at Royal from £120, it represents a huge income for the city – not to mention the additional cash those students will splash throughout the city’s economy.

“It’s bringing people here that will spend money all the time, in everything from grocery store to takeaways,” Mr Hutchins said.

“And this investment is also making the city look better, plus it’s giving people work.”

Mr Hutchins said the influx of foreign students is also making Plymouth more of a cultural melting-pot and he added: “Some of these students are so well-heeled, the average spend is £20,000 a year.”

Meanwhile, at the Royal, the upper floors will become 70, two-to-five bedroom cluster flats, also for students, but communal living.

James Deacon, sales manager at Clever Student Lets, said: “The focus will be on international and first-year students.

“This is encouraging people to Plymouth, and we will be looking at a large amount of national and international media coverage.

“We are looking to a student that does not exist previously in this city.”

Mr Deacon said Clever Student Lets was working with departments in Plymouth University, and with Plymouth College of Art, City College Plymouth and the University of St Mark and St John.

It is also planned for the two blocks to be part of a new “placement and exchange accommodation” programme, targeting international and British students to stay in Plymouth on short-term visits.

“It’s to encourage education tourism,” Mr Deacon said. “It’s offering a flexibility that did not exist in the city before.

“This is evolving and it’s important to be ahead of the curve.”

Mr Hutchins stressed that the two buildings added to other student flat revamps already in the St Andrew’s Cross area.

The former Jobcentre building, called Ocean, now has about 60 students, and Fox House, behind Royal and near the magistrates court, has phase one open with phase two due to open in September, giving a total of 60 units.

Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Plymouth-office-blocks-student-flats-pound-5m/story-26007604-detail/story.html#ixzz3RTmcBACD
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