CEO of ARLA Calls on Letting Agents to Reduce Costs as Fee Ban Approaches

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

The CEO of ARLA, David Cox, has warned that the upcoming ban on tenant fees will trigger a "seismic shift" in the way the lettings industry conducts business. He put emphasis on cost cutting as the main way to lessen any impact.

At a webinar hosted by Goodlord last week he warned that the implementation of the bill is inevitable, citing the lack of opposition to the bill among politicians: "There's no dissent at all. I cannot overturn the will of 650 MPs with no support in Parliament."

With regards to combating any potential ill effects of the ban he stated, "Landlords are starting to get a bit twitchy and some are leaving the market, and while the Government continues to attack the Private Rental Sector, it's only going to get worse."

"I think everyone needs be looking first at how they can reduce their costs and how they can maximise their income."

In a Q&A that followed Cox's talk, independent consultant Graham Lock advised: "Now is the time to review all your processes and what you're doing with technology. If you do nothing you risk not innovating as an agency."

"Agents are looking at increasing their fees, but if you're not improving your business and your service at the same time, you'll miss out."

Cutting down on admin therefore looks like it will be key to weathering the strain the ban will impose. A large part of this as independent consultant Debbie Franklin states, will be processes: "You need to look at your processes almost as though you're starting from scratch. It's really key you do that properly."

"Take a step back and think how can I change that? Don't think you can just keep doing the same thing you've always done, you have to keep evolving and innovating."

The proptech side of the industry has boomed in recent years, but with many agents still not technologically up to scratch, there's still a huge amount to be saved across the industry with effective use of software.

Online contract signing, automated payment collection, one-click referencing and centralised marketing channel management software are all widely available. As David Thomas, founder and director of Liberty Gate said in the webinar: "You've got to focus on cutting costs and increasing revenues, and that's really where the proptech can come in and help."

"Automating processes is ultimately saving us time and money, especially on the administration side."


SES Engineering Win Another Manchester Based Contract

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

SES Engineering Services has secured another student accommodation construction contract in Manchester, this time with Vita Student.

On behalf of Bowmer and Kirkland (the main contractor appointed by Vita for the project), SES will be responsible for constructing Building 9 - a constituent development within the £750 million mixed use Circle Square project.

The 18 storey, 90,000 sq ft building will, when complete, house 384 students in the city centre.

It marks an extension of SES's involvement in the Circle Square scheme, where they are already present on the Building 10 and 11 student accommodation developments.

Steve Joyce, SES' Business Director for North and Scotland said of the contract: "I am absolutely delighted to be working on behalf of Bowmer and Kirkland, on such a significant scheme for the city of Manchester, as well as being given the opportunity to continue to support such a ground-breaking provider of student accommodation as Vita Student."


Robertson Complete Work on Large Glasgow Block

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

A new 458 bed accommodation block in Glasgow has been completed by Robertson on behalf of developer Vastint Hospitality.

Work on the project commenced in October 2016, with the £19 million development coming in just in time for the new academic year.

The 6 storey building, Havannah House, will house 458 students at capacity, in a range of cluster flats and will be operated by Homes for Students.

Managing Director of Homes for Students, Martin Corbett, said of the completion: "It has been a pleasure to work with such an intelligent client in Vastint Hospitality and with such an experienced contractor as Robertson who have completed this scheme on time and to such good quality. The testament to this is that students have voted with their feet by choosing Havannah House over other student accommodation in the city."


Things Looking Good for Proposed New Block in Sheffield

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

A report prepared for Sheffield City Council has recommended that a new 289-bed student development be given the go-ahead in the city centre.

The application, submitted earlier this year by Fraser Morgan, proposes the redevelopment of a site on Allen Street. The new building will be between 5 and 7 stories and would comprise of 289 studio apartments, study rooms, a cinema, a gym, a roof garden and a large reception.

Sheffield City Council is due to hold a planning committee meeting concerning the plans next week, and a report prepared for the meeting frames the proposal in a positive light: "The development will secure a long term future for an existing, underused site in St Vincent's Quarter and introduce a use that is compatible with the mixed business, residential and educational vision that land use policy currently has for the area."

However, if the council does approve the plans it may come with caveats: "The main negative elements of the application relate to the unit mix (100 per cent studios) and the building design (layout and scale)."


Student Castle Propose Huge New Skyscraper in Manchester

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

Student Castle have revealed plans to build a huge new luxury student accommodation block in Manchester City Centre.

The 850 studio apartment proposal also factors in plans for an SME incubator, all of which will be housed in one 55-storey, 165-metre tall building on Hulme Street. To make room for the huge development, the proposals also involve the partial deconstruction of an existing multi-storey car park.

In addition to the apartments and 8,000 sq ft of co-working space, there will also be 6,000 sq ft of communal spaces for student use alongside 259 cycle storage spaces.

The proposals are also adjacent to one of Student Castle's previous development.

Should it get the go ahead, the building is slated for completion in 2022. Student Castle Founder Edward Cade has said of the scheme: "The building will become a new Manchester landmark and provide spectacular views over the city."

"The building also presents a significant windfall opportunity to redevelop a portion of an existing multi-storey car park adjacent to Manchester Oxford Road Station into a fully managed purpose-built student residence."


Centurion Corp Agree to Buy Nottingham Development

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in

Centurion Corp have agreed to buy the 133-bed Castle Gate Haus student housing development in Nottingham, for the price of £10.2 million.

The development, near Nottingham Trent University, is composed of 69 studio flats and 64 en-suite rooms. It will, if the purchase goes through, increase Centurion's portfolio to 29 student accommodation assets, with their total bedspace count rising to 55,615 globally.

Centurion will seek to manage Castle Gate Haus under its dwell Student Living brand. In talking about the acquisition, they cited a '2.1 to 1 student-to-bed ratio' in the Nottingham student housing market, and the growing student population in the city.

Kong Chee Min, Centurion's Chief Executive, said regarding the agreement: "We remain optimistic about the prospects of purpose-built student accommodation sector in UK. This acquisition of dwell Castle Gate Haus will mark our entry into the city of Nottingham and continued expansion into other strong education hubs in UK."

The deal is scheduled to go through in October.


Another Hundred Student Flats Heading to York

Posted by Richard Ward

Plans have been submitted to build nearly 100 student flats on a site in York city centre, extending an existing 326-bed development.

Maple Grove Developments has put forward an application to City of York Council to redevelop the site off Redeness Street.

The same developer was responsible for the neighbouring Brickworks student accommodation scheme, which opened in September 2016. The latest plans represent an extension to this scheme.

The application calls for the demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a new four and five storey scheme. The scheme will consist of 98 students flats across 20 clusters.

Documents submitted as part of the application said the development would create jobs and increased expenditure from students.

The documents added: "The proposals will function as an extension of the Brickworks scheme, sharing the same operators, facilities and effective site management."

"The design, scale and massing of the proposed development reflects the high quality of the Brickworks scheme, respecting the density of adjoining and pending developments in the area."

If delivered, the site is expected to be managed by iQ Student Accommodation.


Huge St Marks Scheme Faces Setback

Posted by Richard Ward in

Plans to redevelopment St Marks in Lincoln to build more than 1,300 student bedrooms have been rejected, following criticism of its design.

The project, which would result in 10 buildings, ranging from four to 10 storeys, forms part of a £150 million redevelopment of the site, which was granted outline planning permission in 2017.

In total, the development would result in 1,372 bedrooms, constructed in phases of 407, 408 and 557 bedrooms, with the scheme to be complete in 2022.

Applicant Aberdeen Standard Investments already has approval to demolish the former Homebase, Lidl, Topps Tiles and part of the BHS unit in order to make way for the purpose-built accommodation.

However, councillors were critical of the proposed design, suggesting it harkened back to the 50s and 60s and had an American-style look.

Commenting on the design, councillor Bob Bushell called the building 'bland' and 'boring'.

However, not all councillors were as dismissive, with councillor Naomi Tweddle suggesting the building reflected Lincoln's industrial heritage.

Once complete, the huge development will also include a number of new shops, hotel and a car park with up to 1,100 spaces.


Bournemouth Development Set for Approval

Posted by Richard Ward in

Plans to build a 206-bed block of student accommodation in Bournemouth have been recommended for approval.

The application submitted by Victoria Hall Management calls for the demolition of Hendy House in Christchurch Road and the construction of a seven-storey block of purpose-built student accommodation.

The scheme is due to go before Bournemouth council's planning board next week, with officers already recommending planning permission be granted.

Documents submitted as part of the application said: "There is a pressing need for new student accommodation in Bournemouth."

"Bournemouth University has embarked on an ambitious expansion programme at both their Talbot and Lansdowne campus sites."

"However, the number of purpose-built student accommodation beds in the town has not increased to meet the growing student demand."

"In helping to address this demand, the proposed development could also help the council's housing delivery requirements."

The designs for the building have been revised from the initial plans following concerns raised by members of the public.

The revised plans have resulted in the rear of the building being lowered to reduce the impact on residents living behind the site.


Crosslane Development Opens on Time

Posted by Richard Ward in

A new block of purpose-built student accommodation has opened in Leeds ahead of the start of the academic year.

The 117-bed scheme was developed by Crosslane Student Developments, part of the Crosslane Property Group, and joint venture partner Harrison Street Real Estate Capital.

Dubbed Sycamore House, the project was delivered on time and on budget, following a 12-month construction programme.
Prime Student Living, the operational and lettings arm of Crosslane, will manage the building and has ensured the property is fully let for the 2018-19 academic year.

The accommodation comprises of five stories, with 117 en-suite, self-contained studio apartments, as well as a common room, study areas, gym and luxury entertaining room.

Commenting on the build, Robert Goulsbra, senior development manager at Crosslane Student Developments, said: "We are delighted to open Sycamore House, our first student accommodation development in the city, and second in Yorkshire following the opening of Brass Founders in Sheffield last year. Leeds is a vibrant student city, where demand for high-quality purpose-built student accommodation continues to outstrip supply, due to its growing student population."

The scheme is just one of four purpose-built student accommodation developments to be opened by Crosslane's joint venture with Harrison Street, with additional sites in Coventry, Portsmouth and Swansea due to be completed in time for the 2019-20 academic year.


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