Watkin Jones Starts Work on Huge Coventry Scheme

Posted by Richard Ward in

Construction work has commenced on a huge 778-bed student accommodation complex in Coventry.

Whitefriars Lane will be completely transformed once the new development is finished. The site is set to cover almost half a hectare of brownfield land on the edge of the ring road, which sits opposite the university's new Health and Science Building.

Developer Watkin Jones are hoping that construction work will be complete by the summer of 2020 in time for the start of the new academic year. The development will consist of two 18 and 16-storey towers, separated by a central landscaped courtyard. The scheme will also feature a roof terrace on the 12th floor of one of the towers.

Under the original plans two 13 and 17-storey tower blocks were proposed, however these were subsequently increased in scale to their current size. This led to criticism with the council's conservation officer suggesting the building would be too big for its location.

Watkin Jones announced a resolution to grant planning permission was issued in March, however the official planning decision is still pending according to Coventry City Council's website.


Hundreds of More Student Beds Earmarked for Lewes Road

Posted by Richard Ward in

Plans have been revealed for another block of student housing off Lewes Road in Brighton.

An application has been put forward for the replacement of Enterprise Point on Melbourne Street, which includes 350 student bedrooms, commercial co-working space and affordable housing.

The plans have only just been announced, but Vita Group said it would release further details in due course.

Commenting on the proposed development, Michele Steel, Strategic Planning Director from Vita Group said: "We have an opportunity to create a really outstanding development here which will support a thriving little community area of Brighton, including Saint Martin's School and attractive, well kept homes and apartments, currently residing next to Enterprise Point, which has become increasingly derelict over the past few years."

"We look forward to working with our neighbours and the city to develop designs which deliver something very special at this largely unknown, but substantial site off Lewes Road in Brighton."

The 1950s six-storey office building was in use until the mid-1990s and then converted into a multi-use business centre and was also used as the home for the Access to Music college.

An exhibition showcasing the plans will be held this week.


Huge £300m Development Planned for Nottingham

Posted by Richard Ward in

An outline planning application has been submitted to Nottingham City Council for the construction of offices, residential housing, student accommodation and a variety of leisure and other uses.

The application outlines plans to build 900 homes, around 700 student flats, and more than 630,000 sq ft of office space.
The plans have an estimated development value of £300m and will make use of the 40-acre site formerly used by Boots as its headquarters.

The application has been put forward by AIM-listed Conygar Investments, who are working with regeneration specialist Lavignac Securities to deliver the site, which lies between Manvers Street at the bottom of Sneinton and London Road.

Commenting on the application, Christopher Ware of Conygar Investment Company, said: "Since purchasing the site, we have been carefully considering our plans for this high-profile site; it has seen a number of false dawns over the years and we have been working hard to ensure that our plans are realistic and will allow us to deliver an achievable scheme that will benefit Nottingham."

"We know how significant this site is for Nottingham and we are committed to delivering a scheme which is not only unique to the city but the UK."

The site has been vacant for 20 years and it's hoped the development will breathe new life into the area.


Aberystwyth Employability on the Rise

Posted by Richard Ward in

Figures from Aberystwyth University indicate that more students than ever are getting good jobs after graduating.

The latest results released as part of the Higher Education Statistics Agency's annual Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey, shows 96.8% of UK and EU full-time first-degree graduates were either in work or in further study six months after graduating.

The data from Aberystwyth University also shows that 78.2% of UK and EU full-time first-degree graduates in employment or further study were in professional level jobs or graduate level further study.

Departments that performed particularly well include Computer Sciences, with 98.2% of graduates in work or further study six months after graduating, as well as History and Welsh History (99.4%) and Welsh (100%).

Commenting on the figures Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice Chancellor at Aberystwyth University said: "At Aberystwyth University our aim is to empower students to unlock their own potential and to develop as independent learners in a supportive, inclusive and creative bilingual community. "

"Preparing them for their journey beyond university and with the skills employers are looking for is integral to the experience we provide, as we embed employability skills across our range of programmes, including opportunities for work experience, volunteering, international experience and other transferable skills. All of these elements add to the excellent value of an Aberystwyth University degree, which is reflected in these latest figures published by HESA."


Unite Group Reports Continued Growth in Its Portfolio Valuations

Posted by Richard Ward in

The Unite Group has released its latest trading statement for the period ending 30 June, reporting continued growth in its portfolio valuations.

The company has seen the value of its UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) increase by 1.2% during the quarter to £2,315. The USAF portfolio now consists of 71 properties split across 23 University towns and cites in the UK.

Meanwhile, the London Student Accommodation Joint Venture (LSAV) was independently valued at £1,204 million, representing an increase of 2.5% compared to the previous quarter. The LSAV portfolio consists of 8,477 beds across 13 properties in London, as well as the Aston Student Village in Birmingham.

The company has attributed the increase in valuations to rental growth and an average two basis point yield compression in USAF and six basis points of yield compression in LSAV. Each portfolio has an average blended yield of 5.4% and 4.6% respectively.

For the 2018-19 academic year the company has achieved an 89% reservation rate, which is in line with the same point of time last year.

Commenting on the results, Joe Lister, Unite Students Chief Financial Officers, said: "Reservations for 2018/19 continue to perform strongly, in line with prior year, demonstrating the continued demand for our rooms and services. The strong performance is driven by our focus on long term partnerships with high quality Universities and our investment in locations where demand for purpose-built student accommodation is the strongest."


Scotmid Submits Student Accommodation Plans

Posted by Richard Ward in

Scotmid Co-operative has joined up with developer and operator Structured House Group to submit a planning application for a mixed-use scheme on the site of the existing Scotmid store in Gorgie Road in Edinburgh.

Under the plans Scotmid will continue to operate a community convenience store and 152 student apartments will be operated by Structured House Group's property management division called BOHO.

The purpose-built student accommodation will feature both studios and cluster apartments, all equipped with en-suites.

The proposed student accommodation is scheduled for completion in 2020, however it is hoped the new Scotmid store will be open and trading before the end of 2019.

Commenting on the application, Maurissa Fergusson, Scotmid's head of property and facilities, said: "We are extremely excited about the submission of our plans for the redevelopment of our Gorgie Road store and the prospect of working alongside Structured House Group."

"The new-look store will be state-of-the-art with an emphasis on being as environmentally friendly as possible and it will continue to be an asset to the local area - providing an essential service to residents in Gorgie."

"As a co-operative, our core purpose is to serve our communities and improve people's everyday lives and this planned redevelopment fits with those values."

"We believe the introduction of student accommodation will also have a positive impact on the local economy and rejuvenate the site on Gorgie Road."

Meanwhile, Craig Inglis, Structured House Group's chief executive suggested the accommodation will further strengthen the company's offering for students, whilst brining a significant boost to the local economy.


Graham Group Appointed to Deliver £113m University Scheme

Posted by Richard Ward in

Graham Group has secured a contract worth £113 million to deliver a 1,400-bed student accommodation development in York.

The project forms part of the University of York's 'Campus Masterplan', with initial development work expected to start in January and construction work completed within around two years.

Graham Group will complete the first phase of the residential expansion of the Heslington East Campus, which result in the development of high-specification student living and communal space. The construction company is also an investor as part of a consortium with Equitix, a fund manager of core infrastructure assets.

Commenting on the appointed, Graham Group chairman, Michael Graham said: "We are committed to providing outstanding student accommodation and the 1,400 units delivered across the first phase of this project will bring our total output in the sector to more than 10,000 in the past five years."

"We look forward to developing this fantastic scheme and the positive impact it will have on the local community, creating opportunities for work and engagement with local businesses as we construct a high-class development that reflects York's strong heritage."

The announced comes just a week after the company posted record breaking financials. The privately-owned business saw a 36% jump in revenues to £767.6m in the year to March, with growth reported across all divisions.


New HMO Legislation Looms Closer

Posted by Richard Ward in

With changes in legislation coming into effect in October, landlords may find it increasingly difficult to remortgage their properties.

Some of these changes in legislation include:

- The introduction of a minimum room size. Those used for sleeping by one adult must be a minimum of 6.51 square metres, whilst those shared by two must be at least 10.22 square metres. Local authorities will also be granted discretion to increase the minimum size if they wish;

- HMOs occupied by five or more people must have an appropriate mandatory licence, regardless of how many storeys the property has;

- Purpose-built flats with up to two flats in the block will require mandatory HMO licensing;

-Landlords must obtain a mandatory licence if the property is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households;

- Those in breach of the new regulation could face unlimited fines. It is also anticipated that failing to meet local authority licensing standards on an HMO property could lead to future financing issues

Commenting on the matter, chief executive at Commercial Trust Limited, Andrew Turner, suggests: "More landlords will be required to bring their HMO properties up to local authority licensing standards. In scenarios where perhaps one bedroom in the property fails to meet minimum licensing standards, there could be future implications, if the landlord wants to remortgage the property."

"Investors looking to remortgage may find that a lender will only base rental stress calculations on rental income from the bedrooms that do meet local licensing rules. That could make obtaining the required level of financing a lot tougher."


Government Offers Clarity to EU Students Post-Brexit

Posted by Richard Ward in

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students at universities in England, Wales and Scotland will continue to be treated the same as domestic students in the first intake after Brexit.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said EU students starting courses in autumn 2019 will pay the same tuition fees as English students and their access to support will remain unchanged.

The commitment will last for the entirety of their degree courses and follows a similar pledge by Scottish government, whereby their status will remain unchanged and therefore they will pay no tuition fees.

The increased clarity will ensure universities will face no immediate cliff edge for recruiting students from the EU after Brexit in March 2019.

In 2016 there were more than 120,000 full-time students from the EU at UK universities and vice-chancellors have been calling for urgent clarification about the status of EU students who might apply for courses starting in 2019. Russell Group universities are particularly exposed to declining EU numbers, along with those in London, as they have a higher proportion of students domiciled from other EU countries.

Some of those with the highest proportion of EU students include: University of Aberdeen, London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University and the University of Cambridge, amongst others.

Despite the announcement there has been no reciprocal deal on how UK students in the EU will be treated.

There also remains questions over how EU students in the UK will be treated post Brexit. If they were to be classified as overseas students their fees could be much higher, potentially limiting student demand.


UPP Closes Deal With the University of Exeter

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

University Partnerships Programme (UPP) has closed a £41.4 deal to deliver 382 student beds for the University of Exeter.

UPP will design, build, fund and operate the residences through the redevelopment of the existing Moberly and Spreytonway sites situated on the University's Streatham Campus. The existing Moberly accommodation is seen to be at the end of its usable life and will redeveloped to increase the total number of bed spaces from 139 to around 251. Meanwhile, Spreytonway House will be transformed into 131 high-quality, premium bedrooms.

The University and UPP have worked together since 2009 and have helped to deliver and operate over 2,500 beds on campus residences.

The latest deal will include £37.2 million of index-linked bond debt from Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC), with a debt tenor of 47 years. A further £4.2 million will be provided by the UPP Group and its shareholders.

The announcement follows on from further good news for UPP after it was revealed the University of Exeter had selected the company as the Preferred Bidder to design, build, fund and operate an additional 1,182 bedrooms as part of its East Part project.

Once the project is completed, UPP will operate over 4,000 rooms on the University of Exeter campus.

Commenting on the deal, Sean O'Shea, Group Chief Executive of UPP, said: "Following our recent selection by the University as its Preferred Bidder for the 1,182-room East Park project, this latest announcement is further testament to the strength of our existing bespoke, long-term partnership with the University. When our existing portfolio and the new schemes are combined, we will be operating over 4,000 on-campus residences in Exeter, in continued support of the University's Capital Strategy and providing the very best student experience."


Support