The University of Sussex has been continuing building work for the new West Slope accommodation, which will be available to students in 2024. Once completed, the project aims to provide modern and comfortable housing with 1,899 new beds and a variety of room types and communal spaces. The ongoing construction in the centre of Falmer campus has proven inconvenient and disturbing for many students.
The campus development plans are implemented under the ‘A Better University for a Better World’ scheme which the University committed to in 2022, aiming to integrate sustainability into every aspect of university life. Sussex already holds the achievement of the largest solar power project in any UK university, with 3000 solar panels installed. The carefully designed university architecture, originally designed by Sir Basil Spence in 1961, is often renovated and updated to maintain a sense of community and atmosphere, such as the Student Centre that opened last year.
The residential development intends to improve future student experience by reducing the demand for off-campus accommodation. However, it has caused inconvenience for the students who live in proximity to the construction site. The site is located near existing student residences, restricting access, and causing loud disturbances during lectures and study hours, making it difficult to maintain a conducive learning environment.
The university administration is aware of the disruptions and has made a conscious effort to diminish the issues, highlighting alternative study spaces such as the library, student union and other study spaces are open. They continue to emphasise the future benefits West Slope Accommodation will eventually bring to the community. The university states “Balfour Beatty actively manages its impact on the community through noise and nuisance management, workforce behavioural standards and community engagement.” However, current student experience does not seem to reflect this action.
West Slope will replace the cheapest accommodation previously available, Park Village, which charged students £95 per week. West Slope construction has resulted in an accommodation option of under £100 p/w no longer being available. Due to the expected extravagance of the West Slope facilities and considering the current East Slope price of £184 p/w, Sussex students worry that West Slope won’t be as accessible as promised.
With its proximity to nature and commitment to sustainable living, the West Slope accommodation will undoubtedly distinguish itself among the range of on-campus living options available at the University. However, the present and future issues of disruption and affordability are decreasing student satisfaction with the development.