A £100m student accommodation scheme in Liverpool that was rescued from administration by its original investors is expected to be approved by planners on Tuesday. Tony McDonough reports
A £100m Liverpool student accommodation scheme that collapsed into administration before being revived by its original investors expected to be approved by council planners this week.
Aura is a 999-room development close to the city’s the Royal Hospital and the amended application will see the addition of a rooftop terrace, gym and cafe. Planning officers are recommending the scheme be approved.
It was one of two Liverpool projects by developer Elliot Group that collapsed into administration after the company’s founder, Elliot Lawless, was arrested as part of the ongoing Merseyside Police fraud and corruption investigation.
Mr Lawless was released without charge and he denies any wrongdoing. However, the fallout rocked confidence in his project which led to both Aura, and the £250m Infinity residential development close to the waterfront, collapsing into administration.
A deal to revive Aura was agreed following the approval of the High Court. It saw the original investors take over the project, with the co-operation of Mr Lawless. The future of the Infinity scheme has yet to be settled.
Now, acting on behalf of the new consortium, architects at Falconer Chester Hall have submitted their revised plans for approval. These focus on reducing bedroom numbers in exchange for enhanced amenities. Additional investment in public realm is also planned via an uplift to the Section 106 contribution of more than £1m.
“The works will have a minimal impact on the building’s exterior, but will add significantly to what is already going to be a great place to live and study,” said Steven Nicholson, the project architect from the Liverpool studio of Falconer Chester Hall.
“The investors’ focus will position the development as the most attractive scheme in a well-served market, moving it beyond its locational advantages to one underpinned by strong, inherent appeal.”
The revisions have gone to committee with officer’s recommendation to approve and work would begin immediately on the changes if permission is granted, says Mr Nicholson.
Liverpool-based Vermont is the contractor. Phase one of the scheme, which incorporates three blocks, is due for completion in September, with the remaining two blocks to be completed by September 2022.