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LSH calls for build-to-rent use class

Major planning changes are required to help cities such as Manchester keep hold of an increasingly discerning graduate population, according to Lambert Smith Hampton’s “Build to Rent: Reaching out to the Regions” report.

Although Manchester graduates are some of the UK’s least likely to relocate to London, LSH said that its research suggests the city’s economic future is connected to the quality of accommodation available for young professionals, with growing demand for the type of managed, shared on-site facilities, schemes typical of the build-to-rent model that is already making a mark in the city.

Ian Scott, associate director in real estate advisory at LSH, said: “Increased institutional investment in direct-let student accommodation over the last decade has played a crucial role in paving the way for Build to Rent.

“As more students experience the benefits of purpose built and high-quality student accommodation, it follows that they will seek out similar product as they move into the employment market. If that doesn’t exist, they may well consider relocating elsewhere.

“Giving BtR its own use class would provide greater clarity for local authorities and planners as to how they should treat these developments, particularly with regard to planning obligations, minimum space standards and car parking and could pave the way for much quicker development.”

Scott added that the city has the main ingredients required for more BtR activity: a vibrant young population, less direct competition with the build to sell market, attractive entry yields and plenty of occupier demand.

He concluded: “We just need planning policy to evolve so that it can proactively support the growth in demand for BtR and align with the city’s potential. Without private rental accommodation meeting the expectations of the city’s graduates and young professionals, Manchester could stand to lose talent to other northern cities or London.”

Manchester is ranked seventh in LSH’s top ten of BtR hotspots, in a list headed by Brighton and Hove, Oxford and Reading.

To download a copy of the Lambert Smith Hampton report visit: http://www.lsh.co.uk/commercial-property-research/2017/09/btr-hotspots-revealed.

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