Student accommodation round-up – new schemes in Stirling and Brighton

1 July 2020 | Investment

Despite the uncertainties posed by coronavirus for the higher education sector, new student accommodation developments are showing no signs of slowing down. Here, we explore two of the latest.

Maven advises IPIM in acquiring Centro House in Stirling

IP Investment Management (IPIM), a Hong Kong-based boutique real estate investment manager, and Maven Capital Partners, a leading UK property and private equity manager, have joined together again to continue their growth in the UK student housing sector with the acquisition of Centro House, a student accommodation property in Stirling.

The £9 million property acquisition represents IPIM and Maven’s second student accommodation joint venture in the Scottish city. 

Centro House is a former office building located in the heart of Stirling’s historic city centre, which was originally constructed in the mid-1990s and recently underwent a full refurbishment ahead of the 2018/19 academic year.

IPIM, with Maven acting as the asset manager, has purchased the property for £9 million and will look to add significant value through active management, capitalising on both IPIM and Maven’s ‘extensive experience’ in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector.

The joint venture has previously collectively developed, asset managed and operated 16 properties across the UK, totalling more than 2,800 beds. Centro House is their eighth jointly managed PBSA scheme.

The building extends to approximately 42,000 sq. ft over three floors and is made up of 122 student beds, consisting of 61 cluster bedrooms, 59 studios and two one-bedroom flats. Additionally, the property includes flexible communal space, a laundry room, cycle store, reception area and car parking, with 16 allocated spaces.

Stirling is one of the most undersupplied markets in the UK for PBSA, with only around 3,000 beds against a student population of approximately 14,000.

Maven, on behalf of its clients, is now a dominant private PBSA owner in Stirling, having recently completed the development of Riverside Quay with IPIM, providing 209 bedrooms, while it is also currently developing Carters Yard, which will offer a further 159 bedrooms and is set to open later in 2020. 

Paul Johnston, partner at Maven, said: “The PBSA sector has a history of low volatility and, despite the wider macro-economic issues which have resulted from the Covid-19 crisis, we are continuing to see strong student sentiment to continue their education with applications to UK universities and colleges remaining strong.”

“We are confident that any uncertainties around academic start dates will only have a short-term impact while markets normalise and once global travel restrictions lift, we will once again see the UK as one of the world’s most popular destinations for overseas students.”

He added: “There is a recognised shortage of accommodation in Stirling aimed at second, third, fourth year and post-graduate students, many of whom rely on HMO accommodation both in Stirling and surrounding towns.”

“Centro House is an excellent addition to our growing portfolio and will offer its occupants stylish student living, close to a number of amenities and with excellent transport links to the University of Stirling campus.”

Selina Williams, executive director at IPIM, said of the latest joint venture: “We are delighted to be working once again with Maven and this investment demonstrates our commitment to the UK PBSA market. The sector is proving its resilience and as an asset class it continues to be an attractive pull for our investors due to its defensive nature. Centro House marks our second value add asset and our first university managed property.” 

She added: “We are confident that the property will perform well given the high occupancy rates since opening coupled with the acute shortage of student accommodation in Stirling.”

Work starts on new Brighton student residence

Student accommodation provider Alumno has given the green light to Westridge Construction to commence work on a new project in the Falmer district of Brighton and Hove. 

The new four-storey Falmer Cottages student residence is being built in association with the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), Europe’s largest leading provider of music education, which counts James Bay and George Ezra among its alumni. 

Situated close to BIMM’s Brighton campus and adjacent to Falmer train station, the development will also be easily accessible to students from the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.

Falmer Cottages is set to accommodate 71 students across 55 en-suite and 16 studio rooms. There will also be a large communal area located on the ground floor, together with laundry facilities, reception and a main entrance. It’s scheduled to complete in summer 2021. 

In line with its policy of benefiting the local communities sitting beside its projects, as well as its commitment to supporting the arts, Alumno will be commissioning a bespoke permanent art installation for the exterior of the development.

“We are delighted to announce the beginning of the construction process on our first student residence in Brighton and are excited to be working with the BIMM on the project via a nomination agreement,” Alumno managing director David Campbell said. “Falmer Cottages will deliver the same high standards displayed by all our developments and meet the growing need for student accommodation in the city.”

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.