The Rehearsal Rooms Victoria Square
Situated in Acton, the Rehearsal Rooms is one of the UK’s first Build to Rent schemes – marking the introduction of a new style of housing designed to cater to Britain’s fast-growing private rental market.
The £43.5m scheme has been delivered by HUB, a mid-market developer and M&G Real Estate, one of the world’s largest property investors. Henry Construction is the principle contractor on the project. Once complete in February 2017, it will provide 152 homes for long-term rent that will be managed onsite under a single, corporate ownership giving tenants high quality accommodation and professional service.
Apartments will comprise one, two and three bedrooms and will be spread amongst two buildings of 10 and 16 storeys, interconnected by a four-storey block.
The Rehearsal Rooms takes its name from the area’s historic ties to the BBC. The mixed-use scheme includes onsite facilities to serve the residents and surrounding community. These facilities include a local supermarket at ground floor level, additional retail and commercial uses, a local lettings office, and an inviting entrance and concierge area with informal resident meeting space.
A ground level part-covered courtyard provides space for a limited number of disabled car spaces, car club parking and a safe delivery area away from main street entrances for frequent removals.
HUB brought on Newground Architects, one of Britain’s evolving talents in the architectural industry, to tailor the Rehearsal Rooms specifically for the rental market. This involved producing communal areas such as a resident’s function room with direct roof access in addition to a rooftop allotment for growing food.
The government has been heavily focused on raising standards across the private rented sector, which houses nine million people across England. The difference between Build to Rent and buy-to-let is that developments are built solely for rent and not split up or sold to individual landlords. Having one landlord who is focused on managing the entire building as a whole for long-term rent means renters benefit from a professional service, which includes certainty around tenancies and an array of on-site amenities.
An emerging sector within the UK housing market, Build to Rent is something novel and something that is becoming more prevalent. On this basis, developers produce large scale, high spec homes for private rent, providing renters with an option outside the buy-to-let market.
20 of the apartments will be offered at discount market rent (DMR), an innovative new form of affordable housing managed within the building – as opposed to being separated through so-called “poor doors”. The DMR units are a similar specification to the fill market rent units but will be priced at 80% of market rent.
Interestingly, both HUB and M&G Real Estate are involved in other Build to Rent projects. HUB recently finalised a major deal to forward-fund a 189-home scheme at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes with Fizzy Living.
M&G Real Estate’s other schemes include a 97-home project in Bath and a 205 unit project in Drayton Garden Village, located in Middlesex.
According to experts, around £90bn of funding could be ready to invest in Build to Rent over the forthcoming years, which could deliver a sizeable quantum of the prime minister’s pledge to build 500,000 new homes by 2020.
Brandon Lewis, Housing and Planning Minister, said:
“Increasing standards for private renters has been high on our priority list and by encouraging institutional investment, we can not only raise standards but deliver more housing that supports our communities.
“These homes are designed to take the hassle out of dealing with a landlord and the provision of discount market rent housing within the project offers an innovative solution to meeting the need for subsided affordable housing in an integrated fashion.”
Steve Sanham, Development Director at HUB, said:
“Our ambition was to bring a totally new type of housing product to the market that is functional, sustainable and which adds value to a fantastic part of west London.
“We are certainly seeing a shift in how this generation approaches housing. Without the bookshelves and record cabinets of the baby-boomers, millennials have less possessions and a greater focus on living a hassle-free life. This is what we’re trying to cater to here by building homes solely for rent that will be professionally run by a single corporate landlord.
“The Mayor’s housing strategy clearly articulates the need to cater for middle-income Londoners – and we were adamant that this should not mean cutting back on design or the quality of the homes being developed for long-term rent.”
Alex Greaves, Fund Manager at M&G Real Estate commented:
“We’re delighted to have our first forward-funded Build to Rent project close to completion at a time where housing is top of the political agenda. The Rehearsal Rooms scheme is an example of what conscientious, design-led development can do for renters.
“Renting is increasingly the tenure of choice for an upwardly mobile workforce which requires the flexibility of renting but, which also seeks high quality service. As a global real estate investor we are confident that Build to Rent offers a long-term growth potential with considerable diversification benefits for investors.
“We are committed to supporting the sector across Britain. There is huge potential to replicate the Rehearsal Rooms model of combining great purpose built rented housing and affordable subsidised units for key workers right across the UK.”
According to Jordan Perlman, Director at Newground Architects:
“We wanted to create extra space to allow the tenants to forge a real sense of community within the building. We’ve also worked hard in the design to keep the youthful vibe of the building, with the surrounding area having a strong artistic past.
“We’ve used a small range of materials and well-considered details to keep the design concept rational and simple. Our aim has been to create a building of distinction and timeless quality.”
Founders of Squarestone Tim Barlow and Robert Sloss were responsible for the birth of specialist London mid-market residential developer, HUB. It was created with the single-minded aim of bringing quality new homes within reach of hard working Londoners. Current residential developments across London include The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, Hoola London in the Royal Victoria Docks, Rehearsal Rooms in Acton and Chesterfield House in Wembley.
Squarestone has a strong track record as a serial real estate entrepreneur, sprouting new property businesses focused on markets where there is a demand-supply disequilibrium. The past 12 years demonstrates support to projects such as Squarestone Brasil – a retail development business in Brazil, F15 – a large housing project of 640 homes in Suffolk and a London office investment portfolio.