Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal officially opens flagship £140m Garden Halls

Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of London, has officially opened The University of London’s Garden Halls in Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury. The flagship redevelopment – involving more than £140 million of investment – is a symbol of positive collaboration between the private and public sectors. The striking new building is one of the largest student developments in London and was redeveloped in partnership with UPP. The redevelopment responds to a strong demand from students for high-quality accommodation, located close to their place of study in central London. Students, project partners, university staff and members of Camden Council attended to celebrate the official opening and watch Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal unveil a plaque. 

The partnership, established in 2013, involved UPP designing and financing the scheme, thereafter operating the scheme for 50 years. Funded by Pensions Insurance Corporation (PIC), with subordinated debt and equity provided by UPP and its Shareholders, the transaction has enabled the University of London to make more effective use of their assets, freeing up resources to improve services available to students and to focus investment on teaching and research. The Garden Halls redevelopment will help the University of London to continue its current trajectory; to grow and develop as one of the most significant academic institutions in the Country.

The Garden Halls redevelopment is one of the largest student developments in London. The halls that previously existed at the site have now been replaced and Hughes Parry Tower refurbished. The halls now provide 1,200 rooms, a net increase of 187 bed-spaces, with a mixture of catered and non-catered accommodation to meet the requirements of different students. The redevelopment includes a garden café, cinema room, music and games rooms, as well as cycle storage. It will also play a central role in the community with local residents able to enjoy the new landscaped gardens and tennis courts.

Chris Cobb, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer at the University of London, 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 said: “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.” 

The high-quality architecture reflects the halls’ important position within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area and the local heritage of the area.  Executive architects, tp bennett, and principal architects of the façade, Macreanor Lavington, designed and delivered the halls with sustainability in mind and the environmental performance of the project has been impressive. Every piece of timber came from a renewable source and 97.3% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. The project is on target for a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) ‘excellent’ rating and the Garden Halls was awarded Silver by the Considerate Constructors scheme. 

Following a consultation process with the local community, students and staff, London Borough of Camden Council approved the planning application in 2014. The construction started in 2014 and the delivery of the redevelopment has been an inclusive one, with equality being promoted onsite by working with Women In Construction and the Prince’s Trust. UPP partnered with the Prince’s Trust to provide work experience for disadvantaged young people on the site, where two young people gained employment on the site as a result of this work.