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Walker Morris advises ENGIE on £200m student village deal

Construction Team reinforce student accommodation expertise on University of Leicester development

Specialist construction lawyers at Walker Morris have advised ENGIE, the leading energy and services group, on securing over £200 million in contracts for a state-of-the-art student accommodation and regeneration scheme in Leicester.

Freemens Common Village LLP has been created as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to design, build, fund, manage and operate the project for University of Leicester.

ENGIE will oversee the delivery of 1,164 new student homes across seven blocks, the refurbishment of a grade II listed building (to be used as office and study space), the construction of a 500-space multi-storey car park and the creation of a new 9,000 m2 teaching and learning centre.

This will be followed by a 50-year hard facilities management contract, which will support the day-to-day lives of the students by providing technical services, estates management and external cleaning for the new residences, as well enabling high speed Wi-Fi and IT services to ensure the best experience for occupants. ENGIE will also deliver lifecycle management to the residences, which incorporates infrastructure replacement right through to internal components.

A key element in the design of the new facilities is energy efficiency. The overall scheme will incorporate a number of renewable and energy-saving technologies including solar panels, highly efficient centralised gas fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and LED lighting will be installed.

These new contracts align with ENGIE’s wider strategy to combine its capabilities to deliver placemaking and regeneration at scale for its customers. ENGIE works alongside them to shape the future use of their assets – supporting with planning, design, construction and management – to improve the lives of those who use them.

Martin Smithurst, Divisional Chief Operating Officer for ENGIE’s Places & Communities Division (North), said:

“This is a prime project for ENGIE, as it’s one of the few occasions where we get to showcase our broad capabilities in placemaking. These contracts not only allow us to demonstrate our expertise across energy, services and regeneration; but provides us with the opportunity to apply our long-term investment model, by taking an equity stake in the scheme.  This assures our partners and students of our long-term commitment to Leicester and its university.

“We have delivered several similar higher education projects across the country and we’re delighted to be working with the University of Leicester, as well as Equitix, on such a remarkable scheme that will create a lasting legacy in Leicester.”

Jules Harbage, Construction Partner who led the Walker Morris team added:

“We’ve been delighted to work with ENGIE on this exciting development which will benefit not only the University but the City of Leicester as a whole. The scheme involved close collaboration with ENGIE, the University, Equitix, the City Council, the funders and the wider stakeholder group. Our experience in delivering student accommodation projects is a great asset to us, as it enables us to seamlessly pull together experienced project teams with a broad range of legal expertise to ensure our clients can deliver projects on time.”

Building work is likely to commence on the student accommodation in September 2019 and will take three years to complete.