From education to employment

Stepnell completes luxury student accommodation in Leicester city centre


Regional contractor Stepnell has completed luxury student accommodation in Leicester city centre for repeat client Zone Developments.

Stepnell brought its extensive experience of delivering stylish, modern residential developments for the higher education sector to the creation of the 85 brand-new studio apartments at 8-10 West Walk. Designed by MAS Architecture, the project combined the refurbishment of Victorian buildings with the development of a four-storey new building to create high-end contemporary accommodation ready for students to move in at the start of the 2018/19 academic year.

It is the second successful scheme delivered by Stepnell for leading student accommodation developer Zone and has been completed as the construction specialist begins work on a third project for the company.

The West Walk project saw the transformation of two existing 19th century buildings to provide 85 ultra-modern open-plan studio flats, each with en-suite bathrooms and fully-fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, within easy walking distance of both the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. The development involved the demolition of an unsympathetic 20th century building and its replacement with a sensitively-designed modern building which complements the street scene. Alongside the high-specification individual apartments, the construction team installed extensive communal facilities including a gym, cinema room, common room, study pods and on-site laundry facilities.

The Stepnell team drew on their extensive record of working in busy locations and managing the challenges of constrained sites through the construction of this complex scheme in the city centre. Solutions introduced to cut construction time, minimise disruption and ensure excellent quality included the use of modular bathroom pods which were manufactured in factory conditions and delivered fully fitted to site.

Zone director Neil Thakkar says: “8 West Walk has significantly extended the options for high-specification contemporary student accommodation in the city centre. We’re delighted by the response to the development’s stylish studio apartments offering a superb range of amenities.”

Stepnell regional director Tom Sewell comments: “Benefitting from a brilliant location in the heart of the city centre, the new West Walk accommodation is a fantastic addition to Zone’s impressive portfolio of highly desirable student accommodation.

“We’re extremely proud to have developed such a successful working relationship with Zone who are helping set new standards for student residences, creating exceptional places in which to live and study.

“High-quality accommodation is a vital part of the student experience, complementing the academic facilities and resources offered by universities and colleges, helping them continue to attract the very best applicants and enabling students to make the most of their time in higher education.”

As part of its investment in local communities through job creation and employment, Stepnell delivered a range of job and training initiatives via the West Walk scheme. These included the provision of a number of work placements for local people in partnership with local charity Leicestershire Cares, leading to a permanent job on site for one of the candidates. More than half the subcontractors recruited to work on the scheme came from within ten miles of the site.

Alongside the West Walk scheme, Stepnell previously completed a major student accommodation scheme for Zone in Princess Road East, Leicester creating a four-storey development of 110 self-contained studio apartments which has just been named Large Residential Scheme of the Year in the ProCon Leicestershire Awards 2018, which honour the region’s leading property and construction projects. The company has also just started work on a third scheme for Zone at De Montfort Mews, Leicester.

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