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Student bounce-back, recruitment for South West project and cinema salvage

A specialist provider of purpose-built student accommodation has reported a trebling in the pace of bookings since Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions on February 22.

Future Generation, the forward-thinking student accommodation arm of developer Southern Grove, said the PM’s roadmap for the reopening of schools, non-essential retail, hospitality and potential travel this summer injected a dose of confidence that is steadily bringing the student accommodation sector back on track.

The student market has been hit harder than most by the pandemic, due to the fact that the vast majority of students have been distance learning from home and not living on or close to campus in their university town or city.


Despite this, Future Generation says it is now 20% ahead of where it was this time last year thanks to the surge it has witnessed this month. As a result, it insists it’s on track to surpass last year’s performance, which saw occupancy levels reach more than 90% despite the pandemic.

It’s currently in the process of letting its portfolio of more than 2,000 student beds for the 2021/22 academic year. 

Although it’s true that school leavers often book late once they’ve received their university offers over the summer, Future Generation, like many providers, says it enjoys renewals and new bookings throughout the year from existing undergraduates, mature students, postgraduates and international students. The rate of booking then peaks in July and August, when approximately 30% of total capacity is let. 

Its managed portfolio currently includes five developments up and down the UK — Steel City in Sheffield, Hythe Mills in Colchester, Guilden Village in Guildford, Luxurio in Loughborough and The Vantage in Nottingham.

“To now be 20% ahead of where we were last year is a fantastic reward for all the team’s hard work,” Andrew Southern, chairman of Future Generation, said.

“The pandemic hasn’t been easy as we were still constructing three of these projects but there are clear signs that the PBSA sector is seeing some green shoots.” 

He added: “Student bookings are cyclical, and the early months of the year are typically quieter. This year, universities and students around the world had little clue what the future had in store and it was the quietest we’ve ever seen it.” 

He said students, in general, don’t have lots of money to throw around and were desperate for some certainty. Southern said this goes for international students, too, who make a ‘huge commitment’ by travelling to the other side of the world to study at the UK’s world-class universities. 

“When the Prime Minister stood up in late February, he at least delivered some hope that life would return to some semblance of normality come September, and that’s now being reflected in the pace of bookings which trebled as soon as he had delivered his roadmap,” Southern continued.

“That’s something we’re very thankful for and we’re now extremely confident that our projects will be in fantastic shape with ample demand come the end of the summer.”

Recruitment drive for major Cheltenham project

The search is on to find a ‘high-calibre individual’ to deliver and oversee the next stage of Cheltenham’s high-profile Golden Valley Development - described as one of the most complex and nationally significant developments in the UK - and see it through to completion.

The team driving the mixed-use development is now searching for a ‘Commercial and Finance Manager – Major Developments’ to steer the project through its next crucial stages.

The development in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is ‘a complex and ambitious scheme’ that has ‘strong regional and national support’. 

As well as the creation of a Garden Community made up of thousands of homes, open spaces and leisure attractions, the scheme is also set to see the establishment of Cyber Central, a focal point for UK cyber security growth and innovation.

Tim Atkins, managing director of place & growth at Cheltenham Borough Council, the main authority behind the development, said: “From government departments to international corporates all the way to grassroots community groups, all eyes are on this project. What we are creating here in Cheltenham is unique, anchored around cutting edge cyber and tech innovation, housing, commercial floorspace, green spaces and visitor attractions. At its heart will be Cyber Central, a pioneering campus-style development which will be the home of cyber security in the UK.” 

The land where the Golden Valley Development will be built is a stone’s throw from the iconic ‘doughnut’ headquarters of GCHQ, one of the UK’s main intelligence and security organisations, which will be a ‘huge attractor’ for support and investment in the project.

“We have achieved a great deal since the project was launched last year, including whittling down the list of prospective main development partners to just three who are now in the final bid stage,” Atkins added.

“We are now ready to bring on board a skilled and experienced Commercial and Finance Manager to drive forward the vision and turn it into a world-class development. This is a great opportunity for someone with extensive development contract experience who wants to influence the future economic outlook of Gloucestershire.”

The ideal person will have demonstrable experience in the delivery of major, high-value development projects, particularly in leading contractual and financial matters to successful outcomes for complex development agreements and joint ventures.

“Given the high-profile nature of the Golden Valley Development project and its importance both to the UK’s prominence as a global cyber powerhouse and for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire’s economic recovery, we are looking for a high-calibre person with exceptional drive, vision and determination to see this through,” Atkins continued.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime development for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our new Commercial and Finance Manager.

The role is offered on a two-year, fixed-term contract and comes with an annual salary of £72k-£84k plus membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme.

You can find out more about the development here and more about the role here.

Brent roundup

An at-risk Savoy Cinema building is set to be saved as a result of an ‘exciting new housing and workspace project’.

A neglected ‘Art Deco gem’ will be saved following Brent Council's Planning Committee approval of the first co-living scheme in the borough. The Savoy, a former 2,000-seat cinema founded in 1936, and designed by architect George Coles, will see its rich plasterwork and exterior restored, bringing an abandoned listed building back into use and providing sought-after regeneration to Burnt Oak. 

The scheme was given the green light at a recent planning committee meeting along with improvements to the Quintain Wembley Park Masterplan, and approval for six new homes on Preston Hill.

Cllr Shama Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning at the council, said a huge amount of work by the council has gone into this project ‘to ensure that the extensions and alterations work well with real improvements secured to save this much-loved historic building’.

She added: “Moreover, it will provide much-needed living spaces and bridge the gap between house shares and normal self-contained flats, and help to tackle loneliness and isolation in our borough.”

The refurbished building is set to provide a mix of co-living and co-working spaces, representing the first scheme of its kind in the borough. Co-living provides smaller semi-self-contained rooms that have the benefit of a really wide range of communal facilities for the residents to use (all included in the rent). 

In addition to the rescue job of the former cinema, the committee agreed upon improvements to the Quintain Wembley Park Masterplan. The improvements secured will see Rutherford Way becoming a tree-lined healthy street, with generous routes through to the northern half of the seven-acre park. 

What’s more, the quality of the homes will improve, with more flats enjoying ‘great outlook’ over the park. In response to the climate change emergency, more of the buildings will also become car-free.

Lastly, six new homes on Preston Hill were approved by the Planning Committee. “New suburban housing is essential to ensure that we have a wide range of new homes in the borough, recognising that different people have different preferences and not all homes should be built in our Growth Areas,” the committee said. “A range of development sizes is also critical to the delivery of homes, with smaller businesses and SMEs delivering many of the smaller schemes in the borough.”

New lakeside development launches near Camberley

Global property consultancy Knight Frank has launched to market the first phase of a luxury new homes development in Mytchett near Camberley, a town in Surrey.

The ‘standout scheme’ – named Water’s Edge - is being delivered by developer Nicholas King Homes and is made up of 99 three, four and five-bedroom houses alongside a collection of 56 two-bedroom apartments and duplexes.

The development is on track for completion in summer 2023, with buyers able to move in now.

It aims to meet the increased desire for green space, which has been supercharged by the pandemic. According to Knight Frank’s 2021 Buyers Survey, 72% of buyers now rate having a garden, outdoor space or access to land as a high priority, up from 56% in the 2020 Buyers Survey, a result clearly influenced by outdoor space being more important to buyers now than before the pandemic. 

For buyers interested in purchasing at Water’s Edge, there is ‘an abundance of natural beauty’ existing right on the development’s doorstep.

The scheme overlooks two lakes, while homeowners at Water’s Edge can also take advantage of the surrounding green land – including 2.3 kilometres of circular cycling and walking paths.

Laura Hackney, head of South East new homes at Knight Frank, commented: “For those looking to strike a better work-life balance in a post-Covid world, there is no better place to set down roots than Water’s Edge. It has been perfectly designed and developed to offer residents a haven of tranquillity, while still being within easy reach of city life.”

Surrey, just on the outskirts of London, but with a very countryside feel, has seen its popularity increase over the last year, with Covid-19 prompting buyers and investors to seek out properties with access to green spaces and local, walkable communities that are still within commuting distance to London.

New research by Knight Frank suggests that new prospective buyers looking to buy in Surrey grew 61% in 2020 compared to the five-year average, with this figure rising dramatically among applicants in London.

Prospective buyers currently residing in the capital and looking to escape to Surrey rose by 146% in 2020, compared to the five-year average.

“The development provides a wonderful collection of unique homes suited to a wide range of buyers. We have already received a strong level of interest in the scheme, and look forward to welcoming potential buyers to our marketing suite and show homes,” Hackney added.

The development is close by to a number of reputable schools and close to the neighbouring towns of Farnborough and Guildford, which boast a large number of highly-rated pubs, bars and restaurants. For those wanting to enjoy the sights and sounds of the big city, London Waterloo is an hour from Farnborough or Ash Vale train stations.

Prices at Water’s Edge start from £345,000.

Unique land for sale in Selby

Bids are being invited for former barracks near Appleton Roebuck in North Yorkshire. National property consultancy Carter Jonas has announced the sale of a 15.94-acre freehold residential development opportunity in the local authority district of Selby.

The site, a former barracks constructed in the 1940s as part of RAF Acaster Malbis, is situated less than 1.5 miles from Appleton Roebuck, two miles south west of Acaster Malbis and six miles south of York.

Selby District Council has already granted planning permission for the construction of seven homes, with an eighth pending planning consent.

The development site includes existing buildings which may also be suitable for conversion, subject to planning. A summary of the consented dwellings is as follows:

1. Existing bungalow – 1,324 sq ft with a 50% extension and external garage confirmed.

2. Barn Conversion – 7,739 sq ft

3. Class Q Conversion – 3,391 sq ft

4. Class Q Conversion – 1,076 sq ft

5. Class Q Conversion – 1,076 sq ft

6. Class Q Conversion – 1,076 sq ft

7. Class Q Conversion – 2,196 sq ft

8. Replacement dwelling – 700 sq ft pending decision

“The development site represents a unique opportunity to acquire a former barracks in a sought-after location,” Steven Soper, associate at Carter Jonas’ Leeds office, said.

“The consented properties are to be built in a unique style reflecting the military history and set in a very generous 16 acres.”

A full planning summary, title documents, approved plans, surveys, photographs and CGIs are available to download from the Carter Jonas website or upon request. The site is to be sold via informal tender with no guide price, with offers needing to be submitted by midday on Monday May 10 2021.

Perry Barr Residential Scheme on course to beat jobs targets

Lastly, the Perry Barr Residential Scheme in Birmingham is ‘well on the way’ to beating the targets it was set to help support the local economy and bring wider community benefits.

Over 200 new jobs have already been created for local people and over 1,000 have learnt new skills as part of the on-site training and development offered through the project.

Additionally, in excess of £100 million has been spent with local businesses within 30 miles of the residential scheme, while the workforce has put in more than 1,000 hours of volunteering for local charities including Birmingham Crisis Centre and the food bank at Eden Boys’ School.

News of these achievements was released as the scheme reached a significant milestone with its topping out, reaching the highest point in the construction of all the buildings on the scheme.

Once complete, the project is set to provide 1,400 ‘much-needed new homes’ for Birmingham. The tallest building on the scheme tops out at fifteen storeys and the first residents are expected to move in by 2023.

Student bounce-back, recruitment for South West project and cinema salvage

The scheme forms part of the wider regeneration in the north west of the city, including improved leisure and community facilities along with upgraded transport infrastructure.

“There is an urgent need for high-quality new homes in this city – so it is great to see yet another significant milestone being reached on the Perry Barr Residential Scheme,” Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said.

“Despite the recent challenges presented by Covid-19, the team working on this project have continued to demonstrate the highest levels of commitment and professionalism at all times. On behalf of the city council, I would like to thank everyone involved for their work so far towards the creation of a vibrant new neighbourhood at Perry Barr.”

International property group Lendlease is the management contractor for the Perry Barr Residential Scheme, working alongside Kier, Willmott Dixon and Vinci UK to deliver the project.

The contractors on each plot continue to work alongside Lendlease to ensure the development continues effectively and safely during the pandemic.

“This is a significant milestone for the Perry Barr Residential Scheme. Helping communities to thrive is one of Lendlease’s core values so I am particularly proud of the positive economic impact the scheme is already having on the local area,” Anna Evans, Lendlease’s project director for the scheme, said. “This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone on site.”


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