Build-to-rent model poised to help ease city’s housing crisis, seminar in Bristol to be told

March 1, 2019
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More than 2,000 build-to-rent apartments are set to be developed in Bristol over the next two years to help meet spiralling demand for housing in the city, according to property experts.

This new model of housing is designed specifically for the rental market and is set to play a key role in helping solve Bristol’s much-need housing shortage as well as attracting significant investment to the city, says JLL ahead of a sold-out seminar on the issue next week. 

The event on Tuesday, hosted by Women in Property South West and held at property agency JLL’s Bristol office, will throw the spotlight on build-to-rent, which originated in the US where it is known as ‘multi-family.

The model has become firmly established in London in recent years and is now taking hold in Bristol, with neighbouring cities Cardiff and Exeter expected to follow suit.

Build-to-rent is a growing sector in the UK property market, attracting more than £6bn of investment last year alone.

Unlike the wider private rental sector, build-to-rent schemes are designed specifically for a community of people renting their homes, are managed by a single professional landlord and investor and offer a range of services and communal spaces from a 24-hour concierge to guest and event spaces to hire.

While residents benefit from this emphasis on quality, community and service, the model also provides a valuable long-term asset for investors, whilst for developers, improved cashflow means homes can be delivered quicker than traditional homes.

Women in Property South West vice-chair Rachael Sherratt, who is also an associate at JLL in Bristol, said: “The spotlight is on build-to-rent in Bristol with funders, developers and consultants all talking about it and exploring opportunities. Regional developments of build-to-rent homes are, for the first time, now on a par with numbers being delivered in London, which illustrates that this is definitely a sector that is here to stay.

“One of the key points of difference that comes with a build-to-rent home is convenience. In an ever-connected word we are we are becoming used to having access to services 24/7 and through our mobile devices. So living somewhere where you can request a tap is fixed, get a parcel delivered or book a guest bedroom all through an app or email is highly desirable.”

Bristol examples include Finzels Reach, where 194 apartments are being developed by Cubex at Hawkins & George for Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. This will be the first purpose-designed build-to-rent development to open in Bristol and it’s due to launch shortly. Cubex is planning a further 250 build-to-rent apartments on the former Avon Fire and Rescue headquarters site as part of the next phase of Finzels Reach.

Around the city there are also build-to-rent schemes at both concept and construction stages at Bedminster Green, ND7 at Temple Quay, Castle Park View and around Ashton Gate stadium with their plans for a new community next to the basketball arena.

Rachael Sherratt, who is JLL’s project manager for Hawkins & George at Finzels Reach, added: “There has been a lot of interest from the property community in the apartments at Finzels Reach that we have been working on with Cubex and Grainger. Their interest in this region is bound to be followed by other key names in build-to-rent, and with Bristol regularly voted one of the top places to live in the UK, this should come as no surprise.”

Cubex executive director Gavin Bridge added: “Happily for Bristol, large and seemingly ever-growing numbers of people want to live and work in our city. Many of them are looking to rent their home – some for economic reasons, but increasingly for many, as a lifestyle choice. They may want to stay for just a few years with the ability to move on quickly, and they want to live in the heart of a thriving city with a lively social scene, so flexibility and quality are key. And that’s what we’re offering at Finzels Reach.

“In terms of regeneration and the development of the city centre, build-to-rent is now becoming an important part of the mix to create balanced communities alongside homes for private sale and affordable homes.

“The model also paves the way for these communities to be created quickly. Unlike new homes for sale, build-to-rent apartments will see dozens of homes occupied in a matter of weeks. This means an area thrives fast, and for businesses – like the newly opened Spicer+Cole at Finzels Reach and Left Handed Giant, which is opening a brew-pub in the summer – customers are on the doorstep quickly.”

Panellists at the Women in Property-hosted event on Tuesday include Gavin Bridge, Anna Johnson, associate director in Residential Capital Markets in JLL’s London office, and Alex Notay, build-to-rent fund director for PfP Capital, the fund and asset management arm of Places for People Group and an internationally recognised expert on build-to-rent, placemaking and sustainable urban development.

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