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Delays to Construction Leaves Students Without Beds

Posted by Calum Martin in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

A purpose-built student accommodation scheme in Liverpool, which was due for completion in time for the 2022/23 academic year, has revealed it will not be ready until next year.

Students hoping to live in the 'Bowline' as it has been dubbed, were given the news by Fresh Student Living on Tuesday, just four days before the September 17 move-in date.

In a statement to the Liverpool ECHO, Fresh Student Living commented: "Due to circumstances out of our control, the developer has informed us that we are unable to allow residents to move in. Unfortunately, this means that your room at Bowline will not be available for occupation on Saturday, September 17. Whilst we are yet to receive clarity on a completion date at this stage, we anticipate an occupation date of January 7 2023."

Fresh Student Living acquired city centre property from Prestige Student Living just last week.

This is also not the first time students have been let down by the Bowline scheme. Last year, residents were told a month ahead of moving in that the rooms would not be ready in September due to ongoing building works, and could also expect to move in by January.

One year later students are facing the same issues.

Malcolm Browning, whose son was due to move into Bowline on Saturday, commented: "All we have ever received was reassurances throughout that everything was in place and would be OK - right up until when we received this email on Tuesday saying everything had been pulled, and they wouldn't be opening until January.

"We have made every effort to put plans in place for my son to move in, and now we're left in real uncertainty about whether he'll be able to go at all.

"He spent all day and half the night trying to find places to live, but rooms are disappearing fast, and with demand being so high this year it's going to be really hard to find somewhere."

Approximately 200 students have been affected by the last-minute announcement.

Emily Kennedy also commented: "They have taken first instalment payments exceeding £2,100 whilst being fully aware that the accommodation would not be ready, and have informed us that the amount will be refunded, yet I do not understand how they expect students to be able to apply and find other accommodation, which understandably expect payment immediately, when we have no received refunds and may not receive them for potentially up to a week from now.

"They have estimated that the building should be ready for move in on January 7 2023, whilst leaving us with no support in finding alternative accommodation due to 'high occupancy rates and high demand', thus leaving us to completely fend for ourselves with little or no time to get anything booked, which I am completely appalled at."

In email communication, Fresh stated students who have had their tenancies cancelled will receive refunds as soon as possible. The message also stated: "We understand that you will be frustrated and disappointed with this news. Our number one priority is the welfare, safety and comfort of our customers so we hope you understand."

The delays last year were put down to the uncertainty and unforeseen issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Fresh said: "Students who were due to come to Bowline are absolutely right to be angry and frustrated about this situation. We became the operator of Bowline on Saturday, September 10, taking over from a previous operator, which had been responsible for marketing the scheme and taken deposits. In the lead up to this, we had been assured by the contractors and owner that the building would be complete by Monday, September 12. By Tuesday morning it became clear this had not happened.

"Throughout Tuesday, September 13, we worked to assess what the situation was and what we could do. This included our teams trying to find alternative accommodation for all students. Sadly, we weren't able to find accommodation in that timeframe due to the severe and ongoing shortage of student housing schemes in Liverpool and Manchester, and the only option was to inform students their tenancy agreements were cancelled.

"Our focuses now are recovering the students' deposits so that we can refund them and continuing to try find new accommodation. Since Tuesday we have found new accommodation for a number of students, and this is increasing all the time. We are also making sure that students receive the compensation that they are due."

A statement from Prestige Student Living said: "Prestige Student Living is a managing agent, and the owner of Bowline recently decided to transfer management of the property to another managing agent. At the time of this planned transfer last week, we had been advised by the owner that the completion of construction was on schedule for the arrival of students on September 17. We are not able to speculate on the circumstances surrounding its subsequent late delivery.

"Prestige Student Living deeply sympathise with the situation faced by students due to arrive in the city this weekend. We recommend students contact their new managing agent for further updates."