Furze Lane comprises not just the 600 rooms in the tower (originally called Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hall after she opened it in 1962) and surrounding blocks, but also a small conference centre, playing fields on both sides of Furze Lane and changing facilities. Several million has recently been spent adding 3G pitches on the St James side of the road.
Bernie commented that there were 3 drivers behind the decision to close the 600 unit accommodation blocks at the Furze Lane site.
- Students like being near the University and as a result, the Langstone site is less and less popular
- The site needs a lot of investment to bring the rooms up to the necessary standard (10's of millions were mentioned)
- The large volume of new student halls being built around Portsmouth and Southsea station
She went on to add that the Greetham Street (yellow box tower) that opened last September and the combined Zurich House and newly built and adjacent Catherines House which both become available this summer would provide enough halls rooms in addition to what was already available to house all first year students. However, with other developments underway or planned in Surrey Street, Isambard Brunel Road and elsewhere there could soon be 2,000 more rooms than needed and it was this fact that effectively made continuing to operate and manage Furze Lane untenable.
The rest of the site will continue to be used and the University has made no decisions on what to do with the buildings, so it is likely that they will be 'mothballed' until such time as a more cohesive plan for the site if agreed.
Transport will be required to get students to and from the sports ground, but current thoughts are along the lines of minibuses taking teams to and from and thus replacing the double deckers and the 'stopping route' they operate. in our view, the changes to the bus service will have as great an impact on many student landlords as the plethora of new halls rooms. But we will need to wait to see how these changes affect the demograhics of the private rented sector in the city.