This Grade II listed building was constructed in 1903 designed by the Victorian architects Gordon, Lowther & Gunton. Royal Connaught Park was named after the original Duke of Connaught (Queen Victoria’s son) and the foundation stone that he laid is still proudly in place on the site. The building became The Royal Masonic School for Boys until 1977, when it became the United States International University-Europe. Restoration specialist Comer Homes bought the property in 1998 and continued running it as a University for nine years. Approached through impressive entrance gates, the original historic clock tower sits within JFK House, the signature building at Royal Connaught Park and named as a tribute to the Kennedy family who once resided there during the second world war.
TV & Film
Throughout this time the campus was used by Hollywood and British filmmakers due to its proximity to Elstree and Pinewood Studios in north London. It has featured in nearly 400 films and TV shows – including the first three Harry Potter films, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and St Trinians. Its 1,400 square foot dining hall was used as Hogwarts’ Great Hall in the first three films in the Harry Potter series. The hall can now be booked by residents for special events and several weddings and bah mitzvahs have already been held in there. The Campus was also used in St Trinians, Starter for Ten, Hot Fuzz, Children of Men, Eastenders, Spooks, and Silent Witness!
Although the planning process began in 1998 work didn’t start until much later. Our first building control inspections after pre-commencement meetings were excavations inspections in February 2006! The first phase involved converting the existing teaching blocks, residential blocks and ancillary blocks into apartments. Retaining the historic features of this listed building site brought many challenges with regard to fire safety, heat loss and sound insulation, which were overcome with the close co-operation of the developers. The most interesting part of this phase for our surveyors was forming a basement storey fitness centre under Harry Potters Dining Room, and the construction of the swimming pool for the use of the gated community residents. Much of the original character is retained including the original staircases, windows, some original flooring, fireplaces, and exposed roof beams.
Alongside the converted buildings are complementary new buildings making use of the 100-acre parkland site. Constructed in the second phase, the new apartment blocks were erected with underground car parks which were relatively straight forward to inspect in comparison to the more historic parts of the building. Again, close co-operation helped to achieve standards over and above the minimum standards of the requirements of the Building Regulations for this prestigious development. 2019 saw the final part of the huge project come to completion. Our building inspection records span the past 13 years, which must be one of our records! The result is a new community of 325 unique and individual apartments and two houses.