By
Stewart Milne (Posted 03.11.14)

Speed, quality, and energy efficiency hailed as drivers!

Timber revolution starts to transform UK student accommodation - the construction of the next generation of student accommodation is being revolutionised by the increased use of factory built frames, according to industry experts.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems, the leading build and manufacturing consultant, has experienced a 50% increase in orders from the education sector in the last five years, with speed of construction, reduced disruption, and energy efficiency all combining to drive growth.

2014 is set to see a record number of people studying at UK universities with half a million students expected to be accepted for first year places, up from 496,000 last year. Universities UK estimates that at least £8 billion* will be spent by higher education institutions on facilities to help drive up standards. Student accommodation is one of the areas to benefit and, with increased demand for spaces, there is an acute need for new student housing at sites across the country.

In the last five years Stewart Milne Timber Systems has helped deliver five major projects worth in excess of £6.8m providing accommodation for up to 2600 people in locations ranging from London to Stirling. The company is currently in talks for a number of potential new projects in Hertfordshire, Leeds and Gloucestershire.

Alex Goodfellow, group managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems said: “The UK’s education sector is currently enjoying a period of growth and investment with improved student accommodation one of the areas to benefit.

“Timber systems offer an easy option for the university sector with offsite manufacture leaving minimal onsite disruption, while it’s also much quicker than traditional builds with completion times on average around three to four months.

“Student accommodation is an extremely important sector and there is significant demand for high quality, sustainable accommodation which can be completed cost-effectively.”


Stewart Milne Timber Systems has a proven track record of delivering high quality student accommodation projects for educational institutions across the UK. With no negotiation on term times, timber systems are ideally suited to these types of development because of the need for speed of build and the increasing importance of energy efficiency. Offsite manufacture means project schedules are not dependent on long spells of good weather while the quality of factory standard products is guaranteed.

Commenting on Stewart Milne Timber System’s most recent contract with the University of Stirling in Scotland, James House, from contractor, Graham Construction, said:

“The benefit of using timber frame was that we completed the project much more quickly than we would have using traditional methods, meaning less disruption on campus.

“The use of timber systems provided a significant time saving with the end result being a high quality, energy efficient building which will be cheaper to run for the University.”


Notable projects

- Completed in January 2014, the £300k University of Stirling’s Residence 1 is a three storey, 280 bedroom student accommodation block comprised of individual townhouses and apartments.

- In 2013 a £65m development for University of Essex opened at its Colchester campus. The 228 bedroom across development was made up of 19 four-storey townhouses.

- In September 2011, a new £30.4m 1000 bedroom eco-friendly student village ‘The Green’ opened to students at the University of Bradford.

- Plymouth University (Truro Campus). In 2011, the £8.5m 232 bedroom on-campus combined student and medical staff accommodation at the Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital.

- Vernon square, London. This £500m project saw the construction of a 66 bed student accommodation project split across three blocks. The development opened in 2009.

Plymouth University University of Essex - Colchester University of Stirling