University of Leicester unveils £150m student village

The University of Leicester will officially unveil the city’s newest multi-million pound neighbourhood next week.

A special event to mark the opening of the University’s £150m Freemen’s development, located in Welford Road, will take place on Monday 24 October.

The landmark regeneration project has seen derelict halls of residence and an open air car park transformed into a high-tech centre for teaching, working and living.

At its heart is the four-storey Sir Bob Burgess Building, named after the University’s former late Vice-Chancellor, which comprises two large lecture theatres, flexible teaching spaces and a state of the art space for staff to work, meet and relax.

The building is a fitting tribute to Sir Bob, who presided over one of the University’s most successful periods between 1999 and 2014. Read Sir Bob’s tribute on our website.

The site also includes accommodation for 1,200 students, a social hub including a food outlet and bar and a 555-space multi-storey car park. The project has also seen the sensitive refurbishment and extension of the Grade II-listed Freemen’s Cottages as the centrepiece of the scheme.

The new buildings are set within an impressive landscaping scheme of tree-lined walking routes, wildflower planting and gardens, with two generous public spaces providing a focal point.

Kerry Law, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Professional Services), said: “Freemen’s is the realisation of years of careful planning to deliver the very highest quality environment for our students to live and learn in.

“We have been delighted with the positive reaction of both students and staff as they settle in to their new home, which extends our vibrant city campus.

“Freemen’s doesn’t only deliver first-class facilities for students and colleagues, but also provides benefits for the public, including pleasant open spaces and safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

“The regeneration of a tired site into a landmark new neighbourhood is something the University and city can be very proud of, as the University embarks on its second century.”

Freemen’s is powered by sustainable technologies, with the expectation more than 80,000 kWh of solar power will be generated each year.

Freemen’s was delivered by the University, equity partner and constructor EQUANS and funding partner Equitix.

The development was carried out in tandem with Leicester City Council’s work to create a much-needed link road connecting the east and west of the city, which includes sustainable transport improvements to junctions, crossings and infrastructure for walking and cycling. Contractor EQUANS was responsible for the highways upgrades around the Freemen’s Common site, in Welford Road and Putney Road.

Freemen’s stats

  • The 555 space multi-storey car park includes 28 electric vehicle charging spaces
  • Freemen’s Kitchen and Bar is open until 11pm, seven days a week.
  • The largest lecture theatre on campus, in the Sir Bob Burgess Building, seats 600 people.
  • The accommodation comprises over 33,000 sqm of floorspace – that’s the same as roughly five football pitches.
  • Around 1.4million hours of manual labour were spent on site to build the project, with a further estimated 300,000 hours spent off site in factories, and so on.
  • There’s over 2GB bandwidth available through the site’s internet connection, with more than 1,300 wireless access points deployed to provide seamless site-wide coverage.
  • More than 80Km of cable was used to install the data network alone.
  • In normal conditions, the site uses around 70,000 litres of water every 24 hours.
  • More than 3,000 planned maintenance activities take place each year to ensure the buildings are safe and compliant.
  • Four apprentices completed their training in the construction trades through the project.
  • All of the ongoing support trades have been recruited within 40 miles of campus to support the local area.