Belfast Telegraph

Builder signs £113m deal with English university for high-spec student homes

The new Grand Central Hotel in Belfast city centre
The new Grand Central Hotel in Belfast city centre
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Northern Ireland's largest construction firm has secured a £113m contract for a 1,400-bed student accommodation project from the University of York.

Co Down-based Graham has been selected as the main contractor to complete the first phase residential expansion of the Heslington East Campus.

The campus will be the location of high-spec student living and shared space.

Work on the two-year project is expected to begin in January 2019. A second phase will add another 800 beds.

Last week the construction group reported a 36% jump in sales to £767.6m during the last financial year.

However, the Hillsborough-based company saw an 18% drop in profits to £10m. It has blamed supply chain issues following the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion.

Graham said the £400m in construction projects it currently has on its books is a record for the company.

It includes the redevelopment of the acute services block at Ulster Hospital in Belfast, the A6 upgrade between Londonderry and Dungiven, the Erskine House development in Belfast city centre, the new Royal Victoria maternity unit and the acute mental health inpatient facility at Belfast City Hospital.

The family-run firm has also recently completed the landmark £53m Grand Central Hotel in Belfast city centre for the Hastings Group.

Executive chairman Michael Graham said the York project is the latest in a line of student accommodation developments.

"This is another fantastic win for Graham and builds on our strong pipeline of projects in the region following the opening of our Leeds office in 2017," he said.

"We are committed to providing outstanding student accommodation and the 1,400 units delivered across the first phase of this project will bring our total output in the sector to more than 10,000 in the past five years."

The project will use an off-site manufacturing facility in the north of England, which the company said will support the economy there.

Graham now operates in 17 locations across the UK and Ireland, employing around 2,400 people. Just over 1,100 are from Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph