Community minded

Incorporating several years of industry experience and over a decade in operation, Alumno Developments is a leading developer/owner in the student accommodation market

Since the company was founded in 2006, Alumno Developments has worked with universities, colleges and other key stakeholders to construct student accommodation and has provided homes for around 2000 students within cities such as London, Birmingham and Bristol. Despite challenging market conditions and a complex legislative environment, the company continues to complete alumno-131-bprojects by working in partnership with several large funding institutions, including Lothbury, La Salle, RBS and Aviva. “From the earliest beginning of the company we have been focused on creating buildings for student accommodation and associated uses. This was an area in which I had worked previously and developed an understanding of the market. I continued to have an interest in the sector and felt that there were several opportunities in it,” explains Managing Director, David Campbell. “Ten years ago the industry was a very different landscape to what it is today. Previously it was not really recognised as an asset class and there were only two or three companies operating in the sector in a meaningful way and it was still very embryonic. We have moved heaven and earth since then so that it is now a much more sophisticated and acknowledged sector, however it is still very important to have a good understanding of the key stake holder relationships. There are a lot of subtleties in student accommodation that can be different to those of mainstream residential markets.”

Alumno Developments will celebrate its tenth anniversary during 2016, marking a decade of successfully completed and highly acclaimed projects. Recent projects include the renovation of the Southwark Town Hall in Camberwell to college accommodation, which will be completed by summer of 2016. The building was in serious need of renovation and Southwark Council was looking for a proposal that would benefit the local community, while boosting the area economically. Having recently worked in partnership with the Camberwell College of Arts to redevelop the Town Hall’s neighbouring Georgian buildings into student accommodation, Southwark Council saw Alumno Developments as the perfect partner for the project. “Our proposal for the Town Hall takes a fresh approach which respects the history and character of existing buildings, but aims to mark a new phase of history for this important site within the local community,” David says. “It also takes on board key local and national planning policies. This wonderful building will provide light and spacious bedroom accommodation, as well as generous communal areas and what’s more, the main entrance and courtyard will allow students to circulate between the Town Hall and the recently refurbished neighbouring student block without disrupting traffic and pedestrians. There will also be a large shared common room, which will use the dramatic skyline view from the roof.”

Further to its development of Southwark Town Hall, Alumno Developments has also recently enjoyed great success in the City of Norwich through the development of All Saint’s Green on behalf of NUA. The Norfolk Association of Architects ultimately awarded a Full Craftsmanship Award for achieving an outstanding level of craftsmanship for this project in 2016. This recognition helped alumno-131-cAlumno Developments to go on to put forward a further project to develop modern new-build student accommodation within the city centre named ‘The Quad.’ The project will deliver regeneration to the site of the former Mecca Bingo and Gaumont club, which has sat vacant for some time. The development will feature student housing and facilities that will make the area more vibrant during the day and night. “This is an interesting project because prior to All Saints Green there has been no student housing in Norwich other than the campus buildings at the University of East Anglia,” David reveals. “This is relatively surprising when you consider that there are in excess of 20,000 students living in the city. It is a very vibrant city with several music venues, stand-ups and a strong cultural base and artists community, but I think there has been some nervousness regarding the developing of student housing. Having completed several projects resulting in good experiences in other cities, including the sensitive development of the grade two listed 50 All Saint’s Green building, we have gone a long way in breaking down preconceptions of ideas relating to what student accommodation can look like and how it can contribute.”

The Quad project is currently in the pre-planning stage and is scheduled for completion during summer 2018, while further projects in Aberdeen and Birmingham will be finished by the end of summer 2016. These projects together with the company’s proven industry experience demonstrate the place of Alumno Developments as a leader in the development of innovative and community minded student accommodations. “We are a developer and a specialist designer of student housing. Our focus is very much on looking at projects from an embryonic stage and looking at how we can evolve the design to ensure that it is sustainable. We can introduce rents that students can afford, while also promoting a strong community aspect that blurs the lines of how a building can be used as a place to congregate and meet,” David concludes. “Hopefully during the coming years we will have a little more freedom and we can choose more of the opportunities that we want to pursue. We would like to continue to work with a variation on a theme in terms of room types, models and looking at wider access opportunities for students from different backgrounds.”

Alumno Developments

Services: Student accommodation developer/owner