It’s not everyone who welcomes another block of student accommodation opening in the inner city area but Bath Spa University’s new Green Park House – not only provides an extra 461 students beds but – with its faux Georgian facade has regenerated – an historic but derelict area.
The building is located on the street where one of Jane Austen’s homes used to stand – at Number 3 Green Park Buildings East – and where she lived from 1804-5.
More recently it’s been the site of derelict offices and a former care home. Before that it was a victim of several WWII bombing attacks and had been boarded up for a number of years – blighting a prominent route into the city centre overlooking Green Park and the River Avon.
Since being given the go-ahead – by planners at Bath and North East Somerset Council – in 2014 the building has been transformed and is now an impressive feature on the Bath skyline.
According to the University, members of the local community have praised the architecture for taking the street back to something of its pre-war appearance.
Green Park House has been developed by Berkeley Homes using classic Bath stone, and built using Georgian architecture which is sympathetic to its surroundings and a nod to its history.
The proportions of the buildings, set in three-bay sections, with parapets and chimney details, reflect a typical Georgian building found in Bath city centre.
The accommodation will provide an additional 461-bed spaces for the University to house new and continuing students.
It enables the University to accommodate all of its first-year students in purpose-built student housing, alleviating pressure on private housing in Bath.
It will also allow the University to launch a new scheme whereby it will offer continuing students the option to live in halls for the full three years of study.
The building will be used as managed student accommodation and was officially unveiled to the local community and VIP guests at a ceremony yesterday.
Earlier l spoke to Rob Armstrong-Haworth who is the Director of Corporate and External Relations for Bath Spa University.
Meanwhile, Professor Christina Slade, Vice-Chancellor at Bath Spa University said: “I am delighted to declare Bath Spa University’s Green Park House open. The University is proud to be leading the regeneration of this area of Bath prior to works starting on the neighbouring Bath Quays development.
“We have received some extremely positive feedback from the local community. In particular comments about the renovation work to the street which has taken it back to how it looked before the Second World War.
“Our students are an extremely important part of the Bath community. They have an immensely positive presence in the city and surrounding areas and I am thrilled to know this historic part of the city will be enjoyed by them.
“We now look forward to welcoming the first cohort of students in September this year.”
Andrew Saunders Davies, Chairman at Berkeley Homes, said: “We are proud to have led the transformation of this important site; this once derelict eyesore has been redeveloped to provide a new building that the city can be proud of.
“As we hand the building over to Bath Spa University, we thank the University and Bath and North East Somerset Council for their partnership throughout the project and we look forward to seeing the building occupied by their students later this summer.”
Green Park House has everything needed for students coming to study at Bath Spa University, including a laundry room, a common room, as well as bike racks and two parking spaces for disabled students.
The University has outlined plans to closely manage the property:
· Students living in Green Park House will not be allowed to bring, or keep a car, motorbike or moped while studying at the University.
· Green Park house will be managed by a team based at the site 24 hours a day, to support residents, building links with the community, and out of hours, there will be a permanent security presence.
· The University is working with NBC Bird and Pest Solutions to ensure effective deterrent of gulls nesting on the roof of the building.
A recent study by Oxford Economics found that last year Bath Spa University and its students generated a value-added contribution of nearly £100 million to the Bath and North East Somerset economy. This is also an important year for Bath Spa University as it takes on chairing the Student Community Partnership for the academic year 2016/17.
The University would like to acknowledge the support from Santander UK plc, which made the acquisition of Green Park House possible.
To find out more about Bath Spa University’s Green Park House accommodation visit www.bathspa.ac.uk/accom
The University has an undergraduate’s open day on June 11th when students will be able to view this and other accommodation.