Student housing to expand on historic tunnels

Student accommodation situated on the site of Liverpool’s historic Williamson Tunnels is earmarked for expansion.

A planning application has been issued with Liverpool Council for the development of an additional unit at Heritage Court off Smithdown Lane comprising 12 studio flats. An extension of an existing terraced block to provide a new build property containing a three-bedroom cluster flat on second-floor level and a further flat on first-floor level.

An additional two single-bedroom studio units would be built on the ground floor level, subject to approval.

The Williamson Tunnels are a labyrinth of tunnels in Edge Hill between 1810 and 1840. They remained derelict, filled with rubble and refuse, until archaeological investigations were carried out in 1995. Since then excavations have been carried out and part of the labyrinth of tunnels has been opened to the public as a heritage centre.

Guided tours have been undertaken as excavation continues with volunteers continuing to uncover new sections. The definitive use and purpose for tunnels is still unknown but it is thought they were a philanthropic endeavour.

According to a design and access statement accompanying the planning application, the existing three-storey student accommodation block is “currently oversaturated and has under-utilised land at the rear which is in an unkempt state.” The documents said neighbourhood and stakeholder engagement was sought to work through proposals during the initial development of the application.

The Friends of Williamson Tunnels charity and heritage centre have both been considered, according to the report submitted by ARC Design Studio on behalf of student housing provider Kexgill. It added, “The proposed development will seek to enhance the existing student accommodation block at Heritage Court by completing the frontage on Mason Street and forming additional accommodation to the rear with modular units.”

Kexgill was established in 1978 and provides student accommodation in cities across the UK including Liverpool, Preston, Salford, Bradford, Nottingham, Middlesbrough and Stockton. It has since expanded into Europe to offer housing in Germany across North Rhine Westphalia, Leipzig and Berlin.

A date for the application to be considered by Liverpool Council’s planning department has yet to be determined.

Image: How the proposed development may look. Credit: ARC

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