Making the Case: Build to Rent in the regions

Build to rent

A panel of industry experts at the Derby Property Summit 2018 believe that Build to Rent is set to be the future of accommodation across the country in coming years.

The Derby Property Summit took place at The Roundhouse yesterday and was attended by over 300 people to hear about how cities can work in collaboration to attract investment and development.

The Build to Rent breakout session saw an expert panel discuss the sector, where it is currently and where they expect it to go looking forward, chaired by event host Declan Curry.

Stephen Pratt, Director at Godwin Developments who have a 200-bed BTR scheme in Derby currently in planning, said, “Build to Rent has come from the evolution of the student accommodation sector. Students are now living in purpose-built, high quality accommodation and want the same offer after graduating. It’s a massive culture change and so we are targeting millennials.”

Graham Bates, CEO of LIV Consult, a company which works with major developers across the country spoke passionately about Build to Rent, saying, "Whilst young people may be the core demographic, we have seen Build to Rent working for everybody from graduates through to retirees and downsizers."

The discussion moved on to what people want from the buildings, and whilst there was a recognition across the panel that each scheme needed to have it’s own identity and there was no ‘one size fits all’ approach, there were a few key themes identified that a successful BTR scheme needed.

Andrew Prickett, Director at Faithful + Gould who sponsored the panel, summarised these by saying, "It’s important to consider design in these buildings, identifying the needs of the location, making sure it is a high-quality environment in all parts of the building providing a secure environment that has relevant and usable amenities."

Build to Rent developments often include amenities such as gyms, cinema rooms, dining spaces or workspaces, and whilst these can help to sell a scheme, the panel agreed that they aren’t essential to a successful scheme.

Ed Ellerington, Head of PRS Housing at Palmer Capital agreed, saying, “These schemes have service at their core and that is what differentiates them. Having a gym or rentable rooms for guests to stay in is a real selling point, but quick and efficient maintenance, a reception that takes your parcels, and reasonable rent collection are far more important on a day to day basis. It’s about taking the headache of renting.”

Graham Bates agreed, adding, "We try to put community first in our developments, we want people to have the opportunity to meet people and have a sense of ownership in the buildings. Therefore we create events such as wine tastings, art evenings, running clubs, etc to get people out of their apartments."

Discussions moved on to looking at BTR in the regions, focussing particularly on Derby. Panellists identified the city as a top BTR destination based on the type of employment and salaries in the city, but also the lack of quality apartments for rent in the city. Will Bushby, Head of Regional Policy and Engagement at the British Property Federation said, "It is encouraging to see BTR developments start to come through the planning process in Derby, but it is some way behind other cities at the moment. There is a sense that developers are waiting to see how the first couple do before following up their interest." Ed Ellerington and Graham Bates both confirmed interest in the city but a difficulty in finding a site that ticked all the boxes.

Stephen Pratt concluded by saying, "Build to Rent is about people and community, only putting in what people want."