STUDENTS forced to stay in alternative accommodation after a £30m housing block in Portsmouth was not finished in time for term have been stunned to find their emergency hotel rooms are not ready for another day.
Crosslane Student Developments’ 19-storey tower Stanhope House in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, was supposed to be ready for University of Portsmouth students moving today and tomorrow.
On Tuesday, The News broke the story of how the 256-bed block is still under construction and undergraduates due to start their course had been asked to stay at home for two to three weeks – a suggestion that would have seen them miss induction lectures and Freshers’ Week.
Crosslane’s Swansea halls has also failed to be ready on time for term. When complete both halls will be operated by Prime Student Living.
Those who wanted to stay in Portsmouth were to be put up in Travelodge in Kingston Crescent.
One student, a 24-year-old man who asked not to be named, said he checked with Travelodge on his booking before travelling down today, but was told it started tomorrow and would last for just 13 days.
He told The News: ‘The hotel staff came back with the revelation that my room and others in the group booking for Stanhope residents weren't until tomorrow.
‘Thankfully I didn’t find this out in person after having driven hundreds of miles and having nowhere to go.
‘However there are currently international students on planes that still expect to spend the night at that hotel.
‘When Prime finally returned my calls they gave no explanation or alternative arrangements.’
He said 64 students due to move into the sold-out block had their contracts cancelled by Prime Student Living, based on information he had heard from the university’s student housing team.
Crosslane preciously told this newspaper unforeseen circumstances delayed the build, worked on by contractor Shrewsbury-based RGB Group.
Prime Student Living managing director Steve Goldstraw told The News this week that the firm had ‘communicated with students as soon as we could to inform them of the situation, what it means to them and of course to unreservedly apologise for what is very disappointing and concerning news’.
He said he hoped the delay would be for as short a time as possible and the firm was looking for temporary alternative accommodation in the short term while Stanhope House was finished.
The situation has left the University of Portsmouth’s student housing team scrambling to help. The institution does not own the halls.
A university spokesman told The News: ‘The failure of Prime Student Living to fulfil their obligations to our students does not have a direct cost to the university.
‘However, there will be a cost to the university to provide additional support and welfare to our students although we don't know yet what that will be.’
Labour Charles Dickens ward councillor and housing activist Cal Corkery said he has been working with affected students.
He said: ‘Given the sky-high rents charged in these places, students deserve better. I'll be continuing to work with students affected to hold the developer to account and ensure they are properly compensated for the stress and inconvenience caused.’
He added: ‘I think there are serious questions to be asked about how Prime Student Living has handled this whole affair.’