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Castle Bailey Quad: student accommodation construction project at Oxford University

Updated: May 8

Oxford University have a target to move all their students out of private rented accommodation and into halls of residence within their colleges. St Peter’s College have embraced this aspiration and embarked on an ambitious £11 million capital building project to provide their students with cutting-edge accommodation at Castle Bailey Quad. 

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What is Castle Bailey Quad? 

In 2018, St Peter’s College acquired the Castle Hill site adjacent to the historic site of Oxford Castle, gaining planning permission in January 2021 to develop the site into student accommodation.  The development was designed by Design Engine to provide 53 student bedrooms, one self-contained student flat and two rooms for Fellows.   

Following a College community naming process, the development was called ‘Castle Bailey Quad’ referencing the formal name of the College, ‘The College of St Peter-le-Bailey’, and the new quad at the heart of the development. 

Artists impression of the new construction project at St Peter's College, Oxford University. It shows the new student accommodation next to the historic Law Centre at Barron House.


The project scope

The contract scope included the construction of two separate buildings (one three-storey and one four-storey) set within a courtyard.  Great care was taken to develop the layout plans for this student accommodation with each building comprising a reception and communal facilities on the ground floor and 54 ensuite bedrooms on the upper floors.  Additional support functions include a comms room, facilities workshop, office, two plant rooms and four kitchens. 

The contract scope also involved extensive re-landscaping of the grounds including the installation of planting, lighting features and art sculptures to provide a more attractive space, increase biodiversity, and make provision for future parking. 

From a sustainability perspective, the Development meets environmental standard ‘Passivhaus Institute Low Energy Building’, which means that it achieves high levels of indoor comfort with minimum energy consumption through significantly improved thermal insulation.  


Site workers install a pre-cast beam at the university construction project.

Our project management activities  

Iconic were appointed to act as the client-side project manager for this single stage project.  Our activities included: 

  • Managing the planning application process. 

  • Project management for the design, construction and handover phases. 

  • Managing the tender process to select consultants, contractors and specialist contractors. 

  • Direct procurement for client specific packages. 

  • Stakeholder management. 

A finished kitchen in this university construction project

The challenges of managing a university construction project 

A significant challenge on this university construction project was the historic context of the site, which required extensive consultation with Oxford City Council and Historic England throughout design development. 

An archaeologist digs at the site prior to the construction of Castle Bailey Quad.

The site was of archaeological interest due to the presence of a medieval ditch running across the area.  This meant that sufficient time had to be allowed in the programme for an archaeological investigation and sign off by the Oxford City Archaeologist prior to commencing the foundations.  Whilst the piled foundations passed through the archaeological deposits, this process was carefully monitored by the City’s Archaeologist who was checking the extracted material for historical value.   

Aerial photograph of Castle Bailey Quad at St Peter's College, Oxford University

A complex utilities design was also required to overcome local power constraints as the exchange closest to the site did not have sufficient capacity to supply the development.  A second exchange, which did have a sufficient power supply, was located further away. However, because of other major road closures in central Oxford and an existing defect in the road, the Highways authority would not approve a permit to excavate the road.  This was resolved by involving the University and local councillor to obtain permission to dig up the pathway and a smaller section of the road to provide a route for the utilities. 

During the construction phase, the logistics for this project were particularly complex due to the busy central Oxford location.  The only site access was located on a main bus route and removal of waste required strict management due to only one wagon being allowed outside the site demise at any one time. 

A photo of Castle Bailey Quad once construction work had completed.


Construction was successfully completed in late 2023 and the first students moved into the accommodation in early January 2024.  

Click here to find out how to calculate the approximate cost of your construction project


A photo of the author smiling at the camera

Darren Hewitt

Darren has over 25 years experience in the construction industry. Within this time he has led and delivered construction projects for major blue chip clients.

Darren has held senior roles in both client and consultant organisations. This gives him a full understanding of the construction process and level of stakeholder engagement required to ensure successful project/programme outcomes.

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