First-years denied new rooms

July 28, 2000

More than 300 students starting at Imperial College, London, in October will be denied accommodation in newly refurbished halls after the builders doing the work went bust.

James Longley and Company formally went into receivership last month, leaving Beit Hall clad with scaffolding and boarded up. The Pounds 12 million refurbishment was to have created ensuite bedrooms for 320 students and was due for completion next month.

Conference guests were to have been the first to use the rooms. A spokeswoman for Imperial College said delegates would be found alternative accommodation in college properties.

Imperial College guarantees to provide accommodation for all first-year undergraduates in college or University of London halls of residence. This promise would be kept, the spokeswoman said.

Ian Clifford, deputy president for finance and services at Imperial College student union, said: "It's a shame; it would have been nice for it to be finished." But he accepted reassurances that all first-years would be housed.

Undergraduates will now have to wait until after Christmas, perhaps even until Easter, to move into the refurbished rooms.

Longley also had a Pounds 450,000 contract to refurbish accommodation for 58 students at the Battersea Court halls of residence belonging to the University of Surrey. The company folded shortly after starting to demolish the old structure. But the university appointed another company to complete the work, which is on schedule, and students are due to move in in September.

Longley had done a lot of work on university properties, including the Pounds 7 million conversion and refurbishment of the Royal Naval College buildings at the University of Greenwich.

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