Yesterday, JLL held a sold-out seminar on Build to Rent (hosted by Women in Property), which threw a spotlight on the burgeoning sector. It first came to prominence in the US, where it’s known as multi-family residential. In recent years it’s become increasingly popular in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France.
The model has become firmly established in London of late and is now taking hold in Bristol, with neighbouring cities such as Cardiff and Exeter expected to follow suit.
A fast-growing sector within the UK property market, it attracted over £2 billion of investment last year alone and £2.7 billion the year before that. In contrast to the wider private rented sector, Build to Rent schemes are designed specifically for a community of tenants. They’re also managed by a single professional landlord or investor and offer a range of services and communal spaces, from 24-hour concierge and gyms to co-working space, shared kitchens and guest and event spaces to hire.
The aim is for residents to benefit from an emphasis on quality, community and service, while the model also provides a valuable long-term asset for investors. Meanwhile, for developers, improved cashflow means homes can be delivered in a shorter timeframe than traditional homes.
“The spotlight is on Build to Rent in Bristol with funders, developers and consultants all talking about it and exploring opportunities,” Rachael Sherratt, Women in Property South West vice-chair and associate at JLL in Bristol, said.
“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.”
She said that one of the key points of difference that comes with a Build to Rent home is convenience.
“In an ever-connected world 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.”
Examples in Bristol include Finzels Reach, where 194 apartments are being developed by Cubex at Hawkins & George for Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. Once completed, it will be the first purpose-designed Build to Rent development to open in Bristol. It’s due to launch soon.
Cubex is also 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.
Elsewhere, there are other Build to Rent schemes at both concept and construction stages around the city. These include 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.
Sherratt, who is also 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."
Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, said large and seemingly ever-growing numbers of people want to live and work in Bristol, many of whom are looking to rent – some for economic reasons, but 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,” he commented. “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, Bridge added. “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 included Anna Johnson, associate director in Residential Capital Markets in JLL's London office, Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, the developer behind Finzels Reach, and Alex Notay, Build to Rent fund director for PfP Capital, the fund and asset management arm of Places for People Group.
Bristol was recently voted as the best UK city for house-sharers and in a recent BBC study was also found to be the best place to live outside London for those aged under 26.