Luxury student flats set to be unveiled at Dean Clarke House
COMBINING state-of-the-art modern luxuries with period features, the first phase of a £7m development of Exeter's landmark former city hospital will open to the public this week.
The Halford Wing, forming part of the notable, Grade II listed Dean Clarke Estate on Southernhay, is currently being converted into Dean Clarke Lofts – 30 of the largest, most exclusive, double-height, student loft apartments in the city, complete with super-fast broadband, unrivalled views over Exeter Cathedral and city, and period features.
Two of these spacious, upscale apartments will open as show homes tomorrow (Friday), with the first tenants expected to move in at the start of the 2013/14 academic year.
"This is extremely luxurious by comparison to any other student accommodation I have seen," said Cathryn Bishop, director of Devon and Cornwall-based Cornish Interiors, one of the companies behind the decor.
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"I would have given my right arm to have lived in a loft like this when I was a student."
As well as offering a prime location, these carefully-designed, generously-proportioned, fully-furnished lofts boast tall Georgian windows, well-equipped kitchens with microwaves, full-size hobs, ovens, washer-dryers and fridge-freezers; flat-screen internet televisions, large luxurious bathrooms, gas-fired central heating and 18 of the 30 lofts benefit from spacious double-bedrooms on mezzanine floors overlooking living areas.
The property will be overseen by onsite managers, provided by a RICS regulated managing agent, Academy, with additional CCTV in public spaces for extra security.
"Onsite management will be provided with an on-call maintenance service for peace of mind," said Steve Trave, managing director of Academy. Our aim is to create a high-class, secure, peaceful and professional place to live and learn in a great location," he said.
The restoration to create Dean Clarke Lofts forms part of an extensive, redevelopment programme to bring Dean Clarke House back to life after the administrative arm of the NHS vacated the property in 2008.
Phase II, due to open in summer 2014, includes the conversion of the 18th century Dean Clarke House, which fronts on to Southernhay, into serviced offices and luxury residential apartments, similar to London's Mayfair district, with a conceirge service for residents.
A restaurant, part of the Loungers chain, will open on the ground floor of Dean Clarke Lofts in mid-April, bringing added vitality to this part of the city centre.
A statement from Exeter-based LHC architects, which has helped bring the plans to fruition, read: "At its peak, the former RD&E hospital was a very important part of the social economic balance of the community and has been since the mid-18th century.
"It is apt that it now forms a critical component in the strategy for breathing new life into the community today."
The upscale development follows an exhaustive consultation process between developers, planning officials and conservation officers – all keen to remove the current building from the local Building at Risk Register.
Richard Short, Exeter City Council's assistant director of City Development
"We're pleased work has started on the repair and conversion of this important, listed building. The student accommodation will help meet the needs generated by the ongoing expansion of the University of Exeter in an area that presently has a low student population."