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BTR – largest UK scheme, lets with pets and supporting gender diversity

UK developer and manager of residential rental homes, Watkin Jones, has received resolution to grant permission for a Build to Rent (BTR) scheme in the centre of Birmingham – the largest BTR development to date.

Known as Makers’ Yard, the scheme will include 551 ‘beautifully designed’ one, two and three-bed apartments, 47 of which will be affordable.

Residents will be able to enjoy social lounges, a gym, co-working space, large double-height reception areas, a landscaped podium and a double-height sky lounge. Meanwhile, the scheme’s location within 500m of the iconic Bull Ring shopping centre will offer residents easy access to Birmingham’s extensive retail, restaurants and bars, as well as New Street station.


At the heart of the 2.47-acre site will be a new pedestrianised public square, giving access to the scheme’s 1,483 sq m of ground-floor commercial space that will aim to enable local employment opportunities.

Alex Pease, chief investment officer of Watkin Jones, comments: “This decision marks the growing recognition of BTR’s role in creating sustainable new homes, and our expertise in delivering a strong pipeline of landmark places across the UK. I’m thrilled that we can now get on and start building this fantastic scheme, which is already attracting strong interest from institutional investors.” 

“Birmingham’s dynamism and central location puts it in a really strong place to grow after the pandemic. But to keep cities desirable as places to live we must continue to attract long-term institutional investment into creating homes that offer an amazing living experience.”

Sandeep Shambi, partner at designers Glenn Howell Architects, adds: “We are delighted with the decision to grant planning permission for our Maker’s Yard project. Located adjacent to Smithfield and the visionary Rea Valley Urban Quarter, the surrounding area is due to be transformed in the coming years to provide a truly sustainable and desirable neighbourhood.”

Watkin Jones is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the local community and the scheme is expected to complete by 2025.

Rise Homes appoints Ringley Group for Coventry BTR scheme

Residential property consultancy Ringley Group has been appointed by Rise Homes to oversee the launch and stabilisation of its £15 million Greyfriars Build to Rent development in Coventry. 

The scheme, which has just completed, comprises 85 fully furnished apartments, with a mix of studio, one, two and three-beds available. There are also a small number of serviced apartments available for business visitors.

All the homes are fully furnished to a high standard, include instantly available 100mbps broadband and benefit from professional management provided by Ringley.

Ringley is responsible for mobilisation, lease-up, onward operation, site staff recruitment, rent collection and tenancy management.

To speed up and simplify the lease-up process at Greyfriars, Ringley will use its automated lettings platform PlanetRent, which automates key processes such as marketing, compliance and tenancy renewals.

Residents at Greyfriars will also benefit from the use of a residents app powered by Busy Living, Ringley's cloud-based platform. The software can be white-labelled enabling users to brand it as they wish while also offering a customer-facing app alongside the digital back-end.

Ringley has previously been appointed by Rise Homes to support the lease-up of The Mailbox, the company's BTR development in Stockport. The 117-home scheme, which also includes 12,500 sq ft of flexible office space for businesses of all sizes, is now fully let despite launching last year during the pandemic.

Rise Homes also appointed Ringley on The Depot, its fully let 92-home BTR project on Princess Parkway, Manchester. 

Backed by AIM-listed asset manager Gresham House, Rise Homes specialises in developing private rental housing for working people. The company has BTR developments on-site in Sheffield, Wolverhampton and a second phase at The Depot in Manchester, as well as a site in Leeds, and is the preferred investor and developer for the residential component of the Stockport Interchange redevelopment.

Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, comments: “Greyfriars will provide Coventry with a high-quality rental housing option that is affordable to people on ordinary incomes and we are excited to be working with Rise Homes in launching the company's latest build to rent development.”

“We've invested heavily into creating new platforms that simplify and de-risk leasing and management and Greyfriars will be another opportunity to showcase the benefits of our tech-driven approach.”

Nigel Rawlings, chief executive officer at Rise Homes, adds: “Following our success at The Depot and The Mailbox, we look forward to working with Ringley at Greyfriars, our latest build to rent investment to complete. The site is very well located in the heart of Coventry's attractive city centre and we are offering a wide range of apartment types all finished and furnished to a very high standard.”

“There is a clear demand for high quality, professionally managed rental accommodation available at an accessible price point, and we are confident Greyfriars will impress those seeking to rent in Coventry with the quality of housing and service provided.”

Research shows BTR is leading the pet rental revolution

Pet rentals have been a hot topic in recent times, and despite the government’s changes to the model tenancy agreement preventing a blanket ban, landlords are still able to decline the application with good reason.

However, the BTR sector is leading the change in this respect, with research from Ascend Properties showing 49% of all developments are listed as pet-friendly.

The BTR specialists identified which lifestyle features the Build to Rent market is currently catering for most to appeal to the modern-day resident.

The more traditional requirement of parking was the next most prominent feature after pets, with 41% of developments offering additional space for a car, with a concierge also ranking high (34%).

With much of the modern world focussed around online connectivity, and lockdown restrictions increasing this importance in recent times, free WiFi was also a prominent offering across current BTR developments (28%).

However, technology is no substitute for real-life interaction and with the BTR focus also centred around creating a community, a residents lounge (25%), on-site gym (23%) and communal gardens (13%) also ranked fairly high. 

The least widely available Build to Rent features currently include the ability to rent without a deposit (11%) and a roof terrace (7%).

Ged McPartlin, Ascend Properties’ managing director, explains: “The whole focus of the Build to Rent sector is centred around creating a long-term rental option that provides the same benefits as homeownership and more.”

“The decision to bring a pet into your home is often a long-term commitment and so it’s great to see the sector is offering an abundance of homes that allow residents to own a pet. This further highlights the long-term, lifestyle focussed offering the sector can provide.”

He adds: “That’s not to say that some of the more traditional features aren’t also an integral part of our daily lives and by providing the old and the new with features such as parking, free Wi-Fi and more, the build to rent sector really does offer an option that addresses every need of the modern-day resident.”

David Phillips – supporting gender diversity in the property industry

In an effort to support gender diversity and encourage conversations to facilitate the growth of women across the property market, furniture rental service David Phillips has chatted to some of the industry’s most influential women to share their career stories.

These conversations shine light on the challenges these women have overcome and their views on how to address gender gaps within management and senior roles across the industry.

David Phillips says it strives to create a workplace that reflects the community it serves, where everyone feels empowered and part of an inclusive workplace culture.

It found that while female representation in the property market has improved markedly in recent years, there is still work to be done, with only 30% of senior management positions in property occupied by women.

When asked ‘What does the future look like for women in property?’, Annabel Turbutt-Day, director of communications – Europe of Greystar, says: “In the past few years, the industry has shown commitment to diversity, and I think the future for women in real estate is bright. There have been some notable female pioneers who have built exemplary careers in the industry, which shows other women what’s possible – its inspiring!”

Anne-Marie Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Love to Rent Ltd, echoes: “There’s been a dramatic change in the last 20 years and if it continues like this, the future looks fantastic.”

The firm asked ‘Have you felt that being a woman has given you an advantage in the industry?’ and many would agree they haven’t and, more positively, they’ve always felt they’ve been judged on experience, knowledge, and merit.

These women have been giving their advice to the next generation of leaders, ‘to take on challenges’, ‘always ask questions’ and ‘read everything you can get your hands on’.

You can follow the conversation and read more from the women in property here.

Separately, here at PIT, we continue to delve into the importance of gender diversity in the industry in the form of our Women in Property Investment series. You can see previous articles here, here and here.


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