Luxury tower is scaled down for locals

April 14, 2000

Plans to turn a Sheffield brown-field site into a multi-million pound housing development for more than 1,000 students and private residents have been scaled down after locals complained the building was too high and the scheme overly student-oriented.

Original designs would have provided 945 student beds and 162 flats. Now developers have reduced the scheme to 643 student places, with 254 flats available for sale or rent, in the hope that council planners will approve the proposals later this month.

However, Dale Fixter, co-director of Sheffield-based developers, City Estates, thinks that the Pounds 35 million complex planned for Sheffield's Devonshire Quarter will avoid the town-gown problems traditionally associated with university communities.

"The development is not a part of the city's infrastructure so it is more divorced than the average suburb. The students will not be crammed into a terraced house with nothing to do. We hope to integrate private residents and students without conflict," said Mr Fixter.

Locals also feared that an increase in student numbers would leave the area virtually deserted during holiday periods.

"More students stay on in Sheffield than anywhere else in the country, so if we create the right living environment, we hope that at least 50 per cent will want to stay over the summer. They might even move over into one of the private flats after graduating," Mr Fixter said.

A far cry from the dreary stereotypes associated with student accommodation, the Pounds 35 million complex will have its own private gym, convenience store and restaurants. Students will be able to hire a car for the weekend from the fleet available in the basement car park. Rooms will be fitted with cable and internet links, and students will be able to play computer games with each other without leaving their own rooms.

Yet the developers say that students will spend no more on rent than the national average of Pounds 2,500 per year.

"Students are a lot more consumer-orientated today and demand higher services.

Parents take a greater interest in standards now because the rent is often coming out of their pockets," Mr Fixter said.

"There is a lack of high-quality student accommodation in Sheffield and we are perfectly placed to provide it. Universities are better off putting their money into education rather than worrying about building halls of residence."

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