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London’s biggest loft extension: HUB and M&G Real Estate add three floors to Acton build to rent scheme

Planning permission has been granted to add three additional floors to M&G Real Estate’s rental home development in west London developed by HUB.

The landmark Rehearsal Rooms development adjacent to North Acton tube station will now include an additional 21 units in the east block, 10 of which will be offered at affordable rents.

Named after the area’s historic ties to the BBC, the Rehearsal Rooms is one of the UK’s first build to rent schemes, a new type of housing designed to cater to Britain’s rapidly expanding private rental market.

The £43.5m project is being delivered by HUB, a mid-market developer, for M&G Real Estate, one of the world’s largest property investors. It offers 173 homes for long-term rent that will be managed onsite under a single, corporate ownership giving customers high quality accommodation and professional service.

HUB brought on emerging practice, Newground Architects, to develop proposals for a scheme tailored specifically for the rental market. This involved incorporating communal facilities such as a residents’ function room with direct roof garden access, BBQ areas, outdoor gym equipment and allotments for food growing.

Once finished, the Rehearsal Rooms will contain a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, spread across two buildings of 16 and 13 storeys joined by an inter-connecting four-storey block.

Former housing minister Brandon Lewis attended the topping out ceremony in February, where he welcomed the role build to rent could play in boosting housing supply.

Both HUB and M&G Real Estate are involved in other build to rent projects. HUB recently completed a major deal to forward-fund a 189-home scheme at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes with Fizzy Living.

M&G Real Estate was the first UK institutional investor to enter the sector in 2013 and in 2014 it was the first UK institution to forward-fund a major development in the sector – at Rehearsal Rooms. It also has a framework deal in place with Crest Nicholson in Bath and Crawley – the first agreement between an institutional investor and a house builder. In May, it signed a £69.3 million deal with Telford Homes plc to finance and build 150 new private rental homes in Bow, London.

Damien Sharkey, development manager at HUB, said:

“Despite current political and economic uncertainty, the demand for quality housing accessible to regular Londoners isn’t going to change. By agreeing the capital’s biggest loft extension, Ealing council has allowed us to make more efficient use of the site. For those commuting to work, living above a tube station potentially adds a huge convenience premium. And with numerous other projects coming forward in London, we’re are confident in the London term demand for mid-market housing."

Alex Greaves, fund manager at M&G Real Estate, said:

“Ealing Council’s backing for another three floors for the Rehearsal Rooms underlines its belief in the scheme. As a global real estate investor we are confident that the build to rent sector offers long-term growth potential with considerable diversification benefits for investors. 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.”

Jordan Perlman, director at Newground Architects, said:

"Working with forward thinking clients, we have been able to provide an innovative housing model of the highest quality for everyday Londoners. The 3 additional floors means that more residents will get the chance to form part of this exciting new community."

Original source: Construction News, 12th August 2016