Students' flats will house a new store
WORK has begun on a multi-million-pound block of student flats which will also include a small Sainsbury's supermarket.
Builders are now on site in Ebrington Street and Trafalgar Street, in the city centre, having already demolished the empty Frobisher House office and retail block, and another empty building behind it called Fleet House.
A team from Midas Construction is involved in a year-long project, not scheduled to end until September 2013, which will see two blocks of flats built, one on either side of Trafalgar Street.
A six-storey tower will include 112 bedrooms, in cluster flats, while across the road a three-storey block will house a further 23 rooms, again in flats, built on a former car park.
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Planning permission for the project, which will also be named Frobisher House after the building it replaced, was granted in 2010.
Salcombe-based Saltire Property Developments Ltd is behind the scheme which will see a Sainsbury's supermarket installed on the ground floor of the larger block.
This will become the second small-scale Sainsbury's to open in Plymouth next year.
Earlier this month, The Herald revealed that the supermarket chain is to open its first Plymouth convenience store in the shell of the Mutley Crown pub, in Mutley Plain, creating 25 jobs, early next year.
The Ebrington Street scheme, however, will see part of Trafalgar Street closed for the duration of the construction period.
This has already angered one business in the area.
Computer specialist Tec Team Ltd, based in Trafalgar Street, has complained about disruption from the development, and the effect the road closure is having on its business.
Director Steve Briggs said he has spoken to developers about this and added: "It's really hard; we are a small business."
However, Midas Construction, which has offices across Devon including in Plymouth, said the road closure was necessary.
"There's no way we can build [the blocks] without closing the road," said Midas Construction commercial manager Jason Chitty. "It's not physically possible."
And he stressed that permission for the closure had been agreed by Plymouth City Council.
A design statement posted by Saltire with its planning application for Frobisher House said there is a "considerable shortfall" in demand for student accommodation.
It also said the look of the building was deemed "appropriate" for the Ebrington Conservation Area.
Mr Chitty said constructing the block will provide employment for "predominately local workers" and said creating more student accommodation "frees up" housing elsewhere in the city for use by the non-student population.