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Ground-breaking ceremony for new student village

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sussex, current student resident Vita Obeng and David Swarbrick, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty, break the ground to officially mark the start of construction word

Student Vida Obeng, a current East Slope resident, was a special guest at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Vida Obeng with (l-r) Geoff Grant, Balfour Beatty; Allan Spencer, Sussex; David Swarbrick, Balfour Beatty; the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Pete West; Michael Davies, Sussex; Maureen Chowen, High Sheriff of East Sussex; and Graham Hill, Balfour Beatty

A group of VIPs officially marked the start of construction work on a new student village in a ground-breaking ceremony at the University of Sussex yesterday (Wednesday 17 May 2017).

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University, and David Swarbrick, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Investments, were joined by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Pete West, and Maureen Chowen, the High Sheriff of East Sussex, at the site at Falmer.

The new development will triple the amount of student housing on the East Slope site from around 600 beds to more than 2,000. A new Students’ Union building and student amenities will also be located in the village.

A current East Slope resident, postgraduate student Vida Obeng, was a special guest at the ceremony.

Professor Davies said: “This is an exciting milestone in our plans to deliver an outstanding university experience for all our students.

“A key part of this is giving more of our students the opportunity to live on campus in high-quality accommodation, and providing a fantastic, purpose-built new home for our Students’ Union.

“It’s great to see this work get under way.”

David Swarbrick, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Investments, said: 

“This event marks the start of construction of the East Slope Residences project and a significant milestone in our partnership with the University. This partnership allows Balfour Beatty to bring to the project its extensive experience in the design, funding, construction and operation of high-quality accommodation which will contribute to the student experience while at university. 

“We look forward to seeing the transformation of the East Slope site and to welcoming students to the first phase of additional accommodation, which is expected to be ready for the start of the 2018/19 academic year.”

The development includes:

  • 2,117 student bedrooms to replace 590 outdated units built in the 1970s
  • A mix of town houses and flats
  • Communal areas such as kitchens, common rooms, laundry space
  • Secure cycle parking for every resident
  • A new Students’ Union building
  • New students’ facilities

The new student facilities will accommodate a huge range of activities – study, socialising, events and mobilising volunteers. Around 1,000 Sussex students take part in volunteering activities every year.

The new buildings have been designed so that they respect and enhance the vision of the campus’ founding architect, Sir Basil Spence. Maintaining the features of the unique landscape setting within the South Downs is at the heart of the University’s plans.

The development was granted planning permission in August 2016. The first phase will be ready around September/October 2018, with all work due to be completed by 2020.

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Monday, 22 May 2017