In Depth: Penglais Farm development delayed

IT WAS confirmed earlier this month that the delivery of Fferm Penglais, Aberystwyth University’s new £45m student residences development, has been delayed.

After several months of speculation that the building works would not be completed on time, developer Balfour Beatty informed the University that they are running behind schedule and estimate that the first residences and central hub will be ready in November, 10 weeks later than the entire build was originally due to be completed.

Photo - Alex Tanton

Photo – Alex Tanton

Aberystwyth University has stated that alternative accommodation will be provided to all students who were due to be living in Penglais Farm this academic year, and has contacted all affected students to advise them on the options available to them.

Students have been offered temporary relocation to Cwrt Mawr, or permanent relocation to either PJM or Trefloyne. Those who permanently relocate will have their Aber card credited with £100, whilst those who choose to stay in Cwrt Mawr temporarily until Penglais Farm is ready will be charged the standard Cwrt Mawr rate and credited £35 for every week they spend in temporary accommodation.

Students have also been advised that studio flats will not be available in the first semester, and are unlikely to be available in semester two either.

In a statement to the University, a spokesperson for Balfour Beatty said that the company is “sorry for the inconvenience this has caused”.

Balfour Beatty revealed its revised delivery plans to Aberystwyth University in late July with regards to their new delivery programme, stating that:

“Due to circumstances, some of which were beyond our control, the delivery of the Fferm Penglais project has been delayed. We are committed to delivering 14 blocks, along with the central Hub building by the beginning of November 2014 with the reminder of the accommodation being delivered in good time for the start of the 2015/16 academic year.”

Student Bethan Bartlett, who is going into her third year studying history, said that:

“It’s immensely frustrating and stressful, and not something you need going into final year. I wanted my own space, hence why I applied for a studio, and it’s immensely frustrating that we’re being moved about and won’t get what we were told we’d get. I’m playing housemate roulette again.”

Charlotte-Marie Yapp, also a third year history student, stated that:

“I’m really not happy, even if it is temporary. I’ve found out that even though we have been given temporary accommodation we might have to stay there for the whole year which I am not happy about. I do not need the stress of having to move half way through the year when I have dissertation and essays to worry about. They should have let us know months ago, and that way we could have got flats down in town.”

Christopher-Cameron McNaught, a third year geography student, added that:

“I definitely felt disappointed with the situation but their efforts to rectify the situation can be congratulated. The situation is not ideal for those who were excited to move into Fferm Penglais but it is Balfour Betty to blame and the University have done their best to resolve the situation. There was plenty of time given for decisions to be made; a personal call to see if the e-mail was received to all students; and a question hotline for any queries. I am disappointed to not be moving to Penglais Farm but my relocation is all confirmed now and I am with the affiliated people I wanted to be with in the first place.”

Balfour Beatty blamed the delays on “severe weather conditions at the start of the year, as well as an uplift in construction activity which put pressure on the supply chain.” The full project will not be fully completed until summer 2015.

A University Spokesperson stated that:

“Neither the University nor any student will be out of pocket for the late delivery of Fferm Penglais. Every student was offered alternative accommodation, either on a temporary basis until the first phase of Fferm Penglais is ready, or relocation for the full year to their second choice of accommodation.”

“All first year students and postgraduate students were offered a full year’s relocation to their second choice of residences. All returning students who chose not to take up the offer of temporary accommodation, were offered full year relocations to suitable alternative accommodation in Pentre Jane Morgan or Treflyone. Students relocating on a temporary basis are being offered £35/week for each week that the student is located in temporary accommodation. Students choosing to relocate for the full academic year have been compensated through £100 being credited to their AberCard.”