Gone are the days when students were prepared to accept just about any accommodation during their time at university.
These days the demand, fuelled in part by overseas students, is for standards more in keeping with good quality hotels.
The trend in Sheffield is exemplified by the £11 million student apartment complex being built on the site of the former Gatecrasher nightclub in the city centre – land that has been vacant since the club was destroyed by fire in June 2007.
Developers are transforming the site at the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street into Gatecrasher Apartments that will house more than 240 students from September. The new building will be part of the West One accommodation portfolio.
A number of new student developments are beginning to emerge in the city, including New Era Square – a 20-storey mixed leisure, commercial and residential scheme between London Road and Bramall Lane. Plans are also being lodged to turn Crown House, the empty offices opposite the Crown Court at West Bar, into a 350-bed student apartment complex, and the old BT Telephone House in Charter Square is now Vita Student, which has 366 flats and claims to be the most luxurious scheme of its kind n Sheffield.
Marketing and residential manager for West One, Andrea Marsden, said the student accommodation market was highly competitive, and many other developers are now getting in on the act.
“Four years ago students would have been delighted if a TV was provided as part of the accommodation,” she said. “Now it’s not just a TV, it’s a USB socket in the wall, it’s a cinema room, it’s a gym on site... There are fully-tiled bathrooms. Students wouldn’t have dreamed of these facilities a few years ago. The bar is continually being raised.”
Andrea said the trend was for ‘communal living in purpose-built student accommodation’, adding: “There is still the demand for shared houses in the suburbs, but one of the benefits of the new purpose-built student accommodation is that some of the houses are going back to residential use for the public.”
The six-storey Gatecrasher Apartments will offer 243 beds, mostly in clusters of three, four and five, all en-suite.
But there will also be 90 one-bed studios, each with a kitchen, plus shops and offices at ground level.
One of the big advantages is the location near Sheffield Hallam University, along with the amenities of the city centre. The scheduled completion date is July, ready for letting to students from September 1.
The building was designed by Cartwright Pickard, who designed the nearby Sellers Wheel complex.