A late-night food-and-snap store is set to open in Plymouth’s former ‘ghost’ student block

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The company behind Punchbowl Premier on Wolseley Road is now looking to open on the ground floor of what is now Saltwater Place

A new supermarket selling late-night food and alcohol is planning to open in Plymouth’s £20million ‘ghost’ student block, which is preparing to open. An application was made to Plymouth City Council for a land license for the ground floor of Unit 2 in what is now Saltwater Place.

The Notte Street building is a double block of student accommodation spanning 12 and 15 floors. It was formerly called Crescent Point but was renamed after being bought out of administration for £11million earlier this year.

With rooms filling up fast for the 2022/23 academic year, the owner of Punchbowl Premier Store on Wolseley Road has now applied to open a similar store in one of the commercial units on the ground floor of the Student Towers. Latt Sahib, director of Intact Retail Ltd, which also controls the Wolseley Road store, is applying for a license to offer refreshments indoors until midnight and sell alcohol for consumption on and off premises from 6sqm until midnight.

It comes as the rooms in Saltwater Place, built to house 348 students, are almost all booked for the upcoming academic year. Prestige Student Living, which is marketing the rooms, is already saying all of its Standard Ensuite Plus, Standard Studio, Standard Studio Plus, Classic Studio, Accessible Studio and Classic Studio Plus rooms have sold out — with a waiting list.

That leaves only standard ensuite rooms at £115 per week and standard infinity ensuite rooms at £123 per week with “limited availability”. It’s a welcome achievement for the building, which cost £20million to build and which should have opened four years ago but has been mired in delays and litigation.

The student apartments were set to accommodate freshmen in September 2018 but sat vacant until purchased by an unnamed buyer. Contracts for the huge building were exchanged in February and the new owner, who was not named due to a non-disclosure agreement, agreed to fix defects that could cost millions of pounds.

ICG Longbow of Guernsey, the lender who funded the construction of the blocks, received a total of £10,922,739 from the sale. But the secured creditor was owed a total of £30,828,913 meaning it will be £20m out of pocket and unsecured creditors ended up losing more than £8m.

The towers were never occupied due to a legal dispute when some of the rooms were found to be underbuilt. The company that owned the property, Plymouth (Notte Street) Ltd, part of the London-based Harouni group, went bankrupt in November 2019.

The building had serious defects required clean-up work, the cost of which “will potentially amount to millions of pounds” and which only came to light when commercial real estate professionals gave Crescent Point a thorough inspection before it could be marketed. Meanwhile, legal battle raged between Plymouth (Notte Street) Ltd, the company that managed the block Mears Ltd, and construction company JR Pickstock Ltd over the alleged defective work on the property. But the legal scuffle over the building is now over, said the BDO administrator.

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