Thursday, May 19, 2005

Student Accommodation Development by UNITE Group Ltd - Kentish Town

UNITE Group Ltd aimed to be one of the leading modular manufacturing facility especially in providing a fast and good quality accommodation for student and key workers. My review in this post will be concentrating mainly on the UNITE's recent student accommodation development in Kentish Town area, made after our site visit on Thursday 12th May 2005 (all pictures are pending, subject to approval from UNITE Group Ltd).

The key driver: The rapid expansion of higher education to a point where over 32% of school leavers go on to some form of higher education has led to increased pressures on facilities, including residential accommodation as over 1.8m people are now students in higher education. UK universities has therefore being challenged to provide a fast and good quality acommodation especially for the new students. To overcome this problem, out-sourcing the ownership and management of a university's can be one of the best idea where the entire stock of student accommodation with occupation can be obtained through leasebacks and service agreements such as 'stock transfer' - as stated in UNITE's first research report back in June 2000 - would enable university to upgrade existing halls of residence, add new accommodation (potentially without capital outlay) and pass the time consuming management process to a focussed, specialist operator.

The UNITE Group Ltd itself has already managed, or has in the course of development, over £180m worth of student accommodation in the UK, for a range of academic institutions.

UNITE's Piccadilly Court (source:

One of their recent development is constructed in Kentish town area where the student's block is consists of volumetric modular units comes in the form of standardised en-suite study bedrooms, kitchen and living facilities as well as bigger volumetric units designed as a en-suite studio flat. The Kentish Town Development is constructed with on-site steel structural frames and the fully furnished modules than delivered to site and easily craned to be seated on the structural frames and joined to create an accommodation block.

The downside of this type of construction is that each lorry unfortunately will only be able to bring two modules at once and since the modules are fully furnished, there is greater chance in it being damaged during the transportation.

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