PLANS to turn a disused 18-storey tower block into student accommodation have moved on, with a company agreeing to fund the £21m project.
The former headquarters of Pall Europe, Europa House, has been acquired by Empiric Student Property.
It plans to turn the block, in Havant Street, Portsea, into a 242-bed student scheme.
Paul Hadaway, chief executive of ESP, said: ‘This property is the company’s second acquisition in Portsmouth. We are pleased to enhance our presence in the city and expect to be able to derive operational efficiencies between the two properties, in due course.’
Empiric has acquired the 199-year lease of the site and has entered into a development agreement to forward fund the scheme.
It already owns the city’s former register office in St Michael’s Road – which became the Registry pub – that was converted into student accommodation two years ago.
Europa House was previously offices, made up of the main block and a three-storey annex, both of which will be converted to student accommodation in the form of studios and two, three and four-bed apartments.
Stuart Properties Ltd will be responsible for the development.
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones welcomed the plans, saying: ‘It’s great news that a substantial key development in the city is under way. The creation of high-quality student accommodation in Portsmouth is essential to cater for the growing university population.
‘High-quality student accommodation frees up homes elsewhere in the city, which are needed by families. Also this is a great indication of the growth of commercial and student market, which is booming.’
The acquisition takes the number of beds owned by ESP in the city to 283, all managed by Hello Student.
The development was given planning permission last year although an application is with the council for minor amendments.
It is expected to be finished in summer 2017, in time for the 2017/18 academic year.
The plan in 2012 was to turn the building into a £10m Travelodge Hotel, the largest in Portsmouth, although this never materialised.