Powell and Whitehorn Hall residents offered alternative hall contracts

Incoming residents of Powell Hall and Whitehorn Hall will be placed in either Albany Park or David Russell Apartments and Fife Park at the start of the term, due to the risk that both halls may not be completed for up to seven weeks into the semester.

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Photo: Avtek Solutions

Incoming residents of Powell Hall and Whitehorn Hall will be placed in alternative accommodation at the start of term due to the risk that both halls will not be completed by September.

The news was confirmed in emails to incoming students of the new halls last Friday.

In emails to incoming residents, Student Accommodation Services said, “This is a completely new build, and unfortunately we have been informed by the contractor that there is a significant risk that the Hall will not be completed by 8 September 2018. In these circumstances the University will not be in a position to open these rooms for the start of term.”

Students were also informed that the maximum delay of both halls is expected to be seven weeks, or the mid-semester break.

Returning undergraduate students to both Powell and Whitehorn Hall were given two options, described as a “contingency measure.”

The first option would see students allocated a temporary room in Albany Park rent-free for seven weeks, with them then able to move into Whitehorn Hall as soon as their room was ready.

For the second option, those residents of Powell Hall and Whitehorn Hall with ensuite rooms could transfer their contract to a room in David Russell Apartments (DRA), whilst standard room holders in Whitehorn could transfer to a room in Fife Park.

Postgraduate entrant students were given one option of a maximum of seven weeks in Albany Park and then a return to their initial contract of Powell Hall.

In the email, Student Accommodation Services said, “The expected delay in completion of our new halls is due to circumstances entirely beyond our control, and although our contractors are working as hard as possible to meet the original deadline for completion, we cannot take the risk that the rooms may not be ready for the start of term. We very much regret this.”

For students who choose the Albany Park and Whitehorn Hall option, they were informed that “the University will provide free transport and assistance in moving.”

Additionally, their rooms in Albany Park would be fully furnished with bedding and linen, kitchens would be equipped with a range of equipment, and if they applied as a group, their temporary rooms would stay with that group.

The email was sent on Friday 22 June, and students were given until Friday 29 June, or one week, to respond with their decision.

Though residents of Whitehorn Hall can still return to their chosen hall after a maximum of seven weeks, Powell Hall residents will be unable to return because the University announced that the hall was becoming a postgraduate-only hall, something that was only revealed on 22 June.

The email reads, “Regrettably, we can no longer honour our offer to you for Powell Hall, as in these unusual circumstances the University has decided in the short term to run Powell as a postgraduate hall only.”

It is unclear what may happen to the hall committee of Powell Hall and Agnes Blackadder Hall (ABH) and that of University Hall and Whitehorn Hall, as some committee members, including the senior student of ABH and Powell Hall, will be living in Albany Park or DRA for up to the first half of the semester.

The news of the halls’ delay comes after The Saint revealed in May that, during a University Court meeting on Friday 13 April, it was announced that contingency plans were being considered for Powell and Whitehorn Hall.

Photo: Sasha Veliko-Shapko

The delay in construction was said to have been caused by weather issues, particularly the Beast from the East snowstorm in late February and early March. The minutes from the meeting said that “progress, though behind, was still within tolerable levels,” but contingency plans were still being considered.

Around this time, the University agreed with the contractor that construction workers could use the weekends to catch up on quiet work, including painting.

Of the delays a spokesman for the University said: “This is a very regrettable delay in the completion of both of these important housing projects. It is due to factors which are entirely beyond the University’s control, which we understand are related to the availability of skilled tradesmen to work on site.

“The contractors are still working extremely hard in the hope of meeting the original deadline, but having reviewed the situation very carefully, we cannot take the risk of proceeding on the basis of the new halls being available at the start of session when evidence strongly suggests this is not achievable.”

They continued, “We have endeavoured to implement an interim solution to a complex challenge which affects a large number of our students. In doing so, our aim has been to be fair to as many as possible, although we appreciate there will be individual cases for which we may have to make special arrangements.

“Our student accommodation team is liaising with individual applicants and ready to assist wherever possible.”

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