Work on Naafi building site is now under way
WORK has finally started on a major student flats development in the city centre.
Workmen have moved on to the former Naafi building site on Notte Street – following sale of the land by Plymouth University.
Knightsbridge Student Housing have bought the freehold of the plot for £3.5million.
The company says the building will be finished and ready for its first student occupants by August 2013.
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The cleared site has been fenced off for almost 18 months, after the university-owned Naafi building was controversially demolished in 2010.
Plymouth University received planning permission in October that year to build a £21million student housing block. It was originally due to be complete by September this year.
Knightsbridge Student Housing said they will be sticking to the agreed plans, which were scaled back after concerns from nearby residents about the height of the development.
The site has full planning permission for student accommodation of between four and nine storeys, containing 517 student bedrooms – 59 flats and 73 studio rooms.
The site will also include shops and cafes on to Armada Way and Notte Street.
Bob Crompton, Knightsbridge Student Housing CEO, said: "We have looked at investing in Plymouth for a number of years and are delighted to have secured this opportunity.
"Once the building is complete, we will manage the building through our operating company The Student Housing Company, which will provide first class accommodation and care to the students of Plymouth."
The company has appointed Currie and Brown as their employers agent, and Leadbitters as construction partner.
The 1.2 acre site was previously home to teaching accommodation, which has since been relocated to other parts of the university.
The Naafi building was also known as the Hoe Centre.
Protestors had launched a petition against the building's demolition in July 2010, and attempted to get it listed by English Heritage.
The development generated further interest in November 2010 and February 2011 when builders demolishing the former Naafi building uncovered unexploded World War Two bombs.
The discovery of the air-dropped bombs each time resulted in a exclusion zones being set up, and dozens of people evacuated from city centre homes, restaurants, bars and hotels.
The sale was negotiated by independent property adviser GVA.
Gordon Isgrove, GVA land and development director, said: "The successful sale of this central site to Knightsbridge Student Housing is part of Plymouth University's strategy to increase the number of first-class rooms available to students in the city.
"This will also help the City meet its housing targets, because the provision of purpose-built student accommodation will enable the release of large houses occupied by students back into the residential market."