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Edinburgh University chooses partner for £110m construction project

The University of Edinburgh has appointed international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty as preferred bidder for its new Holyrood Postgraduate Student Accommodation and Outreach Centre project.

Valued at £110 million, the 50-year concession contract will encompass the design, building and maintenance of accommodation facilities for 1,160 postgraduate students, as well as an outreach centre for community-based teaching activities and continuous professional development courses.

Balfour Beatty will invest 100 per cent of the project's required equity, which is expected to reach a financial close in spring 2013, while the new site's energy needs will be met by the university's Combined Heat and Power Energy Centre.

The contract was signed with consideration given to Balfour Beatty's experience in the student accommodation sector, with the firm's contract portfolio in this field amounting to more than £120 million at present.

Over the last 18 years, the two organisations have worked together on a number of projects, with this latest scheme described as a vital part of the university's aim of enhancing its postgraduate student experience.

Nigel Paul, director of corporate services at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Balfour Beatty's involvement can help us create additional opportunities and enhance the experience and engagement of our growing number of postgraduate students by providing a good mix of state-of-the-art accommodation types with excellent support and social spaces."

The investment in a major construction project will be welcomed at a time when the UK's building firms are expressing concern over the downturn in business they have seen as a result of the current recession.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, has called on chancellor George Osborne to cut VAT on all housing repair, maintenance and improvement work to five per cent in order to bolster the sector, which in turn will help drive growth in the wider economy, while creating thousands of new jobs. 

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