Tag Archives: essential living

Essential gets £20m from Venn to back conversion project

PRS developer Essential Living has agreed a £20 million debt facility from Venn Partners, to help it develop the Perfume Factory site in Acton. The project, converting the commercial premises into private rental homes, will deliver around 500 new apartments.

New private rental homes looking sweet at the Perfume Factory, Acton

New private rental homes looking sweet at the Perfume Factory, Acton

Alternative lender Venn will advance up to £20 million on a three year debt facility, with an option to extend for two more years.

Essential Living paid £30 million for the site in July, and is currently consulting with the local authority and nearby residents over the redevelopment. Completion is some way off, with the company not expecting to start work until 2016.

Venn has just been appointed to run the government’s Private Rented Sector Guarantee Scheme, which is destined to provide loans to encourage more private sector development of flats for rent. The Essential Living deal is not under this new regime, which is still be established.

This is not the first time that Essential Living has tapped alternative funding sources, specifically those that are inclined to support the private rented sector. Its projects in Maidenhead, Archway and Bethnal Green have recently received a £52 million loan via the government-backed Build to Rent fund. In that instance, RBS and the Homes & Communities Agency are supporting the three year funding.

Essential Living gets £52m support to deliver PRS projects

Private rented sector developer Essential Living has received the first payment from the second phase of the government’s Build to Rent fund. The company will get a £52 million loan via Royal Bank of Scotland and the Homes & Communities Agency to fund projects in Maidenhead, Archway and Bethnal Green.

The three year loan will enable the developments to proceed, getting the first apartments complete for renting in early 2016.
Essential Living has set out to convert office buildings or develop new properties, designed from the outset for rental. It has already received £150 million of backing from investor M3 Capital Partners to start its development programme.


Reclad and resused - Archway Tower to be reborn as apartments

Reclad and resused – Archway Tower to be reborn as apartments

The company has received permission for the conversion of its Archway office tower to flats. But in Swiss Cottage, its bid to build a new residential tower has hit a problem, with its planning application turned down after local people objected to the bulk of the proposed development.

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

“This funding will help us spread our existing equity even further, enabling us to develop our pipeline of 5,000 homes for long term rent quicker,” said Essential Living’s Daryl Flay.

“There’s a genuine need for the old-style housing market to be disrupted. Renters deserve certainty, great customer service and above all, the confidence to make a place your home and trust in your landlord. We want people to feel they’re at home the minute they walk in the building and this underpins our focus on creating a new style of living with a host of amenities and shared spaces encouraging community living for today’s renters.”

And Phil Hooper of RBS commented: “We are delighted to be supporting Essential Living with these first three schemes alongside the HCA. We hope that this senior debt support will lay the foundations for delivery of a significant PRS development pipeline.”

Build to Rent was established by the government in 2012, to help accelerate private rented sector development. An initial £700 million was topped up more recently to £1.1 billion. Funds are advanced as a repayable loan, potentially easing the funding of construction in situations where development finance may be harder to find from other sources.

“We’re determined to create a bigger, better private rented sector so I’m pleased that we’re working with Essential Living to deliver newly-built homes specifically for private rent,” said housing minister Brandon Lewis.

“Thanks to a contribution from our Build to Rent fund and RBS, 300 homes will now be built across Bethnal Green, Archway and Maidenhead for new tenants. Essential Living is the latest company to move into this new and growing market for private rented homes and I hope others follow in their footsteps.”

Runners up praised for private rented initiatives

Two projects in the outskirts of London were named as runners up in the MIPIM UK awards, announced last week, behind first choice Get Living London.

First off was London Road, Barking, a 100 flat development being developed by residential landlord Grainger and Aviva. Developed by Bouygues Development, the project includes an Asda supermarket beneath the flats, and is due for completion in the third quarter of 2015.

London Road, Barking, delivering 100 flats for long term rental

London Road, Barking, delivering 100 flats for long term rental

Also highly regarded by the award judges was Taberner House in Croydon, a 32 storey tower that will provide 230 flats converted specifically for rental. New PRS landlord Essential Living has agreed to forward purchase the project, while is being developed to designs by Make Architects. The block will be built on the former site of the Croydon council offices.

The 32 storey Taberner House project will provide 230 flats with commanding views across south London

The 32 storey Taberner House project will provide 230 flats with commanding views across south London



Essential Living hit by planning u-turn in Swiss Cottage

PRS developer Essential Living has had a setback in its plans to develop a site in Swiss Cottage, north London. Despite being recommended for approval, Camden council’s planning committee turned down the proposal for a 24 storey tower that would have delivered 188 flats, mostly for private rent.

Planning committee members bowed to pressure from a campaign led by local residents, which gathered a 3,000 signature petition against the project. A former English Heritage director involved with marshalling opposition branded the project “monstrous” and “grotesque”.

Objections to the tower came despite improvements the development would bring to Swiss Cottage underground station, and the fact that the proposed height is in keeping with the four 23 storey towers on the nearby Chalcot estate. Currently, a six storey office block sits on the site.

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

Essential Living plans a new, 24 storey residential tower in Swiss Cottage

Despite the rejection by Camden councillors, the project may yet receive approval, as London mayor Boris Johnson has the power to overrule local planners on the project, due to its scale and significance. Johnson is also keen to get more homes built in London, and the Essential Living development would deliver 152 flats for private rent, plus an additional 36 affordable housing units.

This is not the first time Essential has had its development plans thwarted by London borough planners. Earlier this year, it had to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate after Islington council failed to determine an application to reclad an office tower in Archway. There, the objection was to the loss of office space as Essential converts it to housing; councillors also criticised the quality of the proposals.

Big hitters circle private rented sector

In a sign that the private rental market is growing in stature and has a healthy future with major growth coming, a pair of experienced property investment organisations are heading into the market, from both Canada and the UK.

Canadian investor Realstar is said to be taking a close interest in a London PRS project in Elephant & Castle. The 470 apartment project in a 44 storey tower has been advanced by Mace Real Estate, which had been expected to take the development forward with private rental partner Essential Living.

Realstar is a big player in the private rental market, having built up a portfolio of 30,000 rental homes in the Canadian market. It has already dipped its toe in the UK market, and according to Property Week magazine, is reported to have been looking for additional PRS projects to get involved in. The company already has other UK property investments in the hotel and student accommodation markets.

Also ready to make a play in the UK private rented housing market are property industry veterans Godfrey Bradman and Sir Stuart Lipton. Bradman and Lipton were the dream team behind Broadgate, which created an industry-leading office complex from railway yards and space above the tracks at London’s Liverpool Street station; Broadgate’s breathtaking scale, speed of construction and style of new, efficient office buildings kept the City of London in the game as a global financial centre.

Now, Bradman has established company UK Residential Properties, with Lipton and other senior, big hitters among its directors. The pair have yet to reveal their plans, but their track record suggests they could deliver a game-changing move. And their unrivalled connections mean they have the ability to pull together substantial funds, should they see an opportunity.

Essential Living uses design to set rental homes apart

Essential Living, one of the new breed of private rented sector developers in the UK market, is undertaking research and conducting focus groups in a bid to understand just what today’s home renters want. Everything is up for grabs, as the group tries to redefine home renting as a painless service, rather than a hassle.

Quentin Keeble, Essential Living’s recently appointed development director, says initial feedback has been invaluable in helping the company design its upcoming schemes. “What is already clear is the principle that a person’s home should begin at the door of the building and not at the door of their flat,” he says, in an opinion piece published in Property Week. That could include, for example, turning over a penthouse apartment to shared space for residents; while this would mean foregoing the additional rental from a flat, it could deliver an equivalent long term value by delivering a more attractive package for those renting flats elsewhere in the building.

Quentin Keeble of Essential Living - focusing on design that works for renters

Quentin Keeble – focusing on design that works for renters

Essential will be aiming to use good design to deliver apartments with:

* fixtures and fittings selected for their high quality rather than just a brand name

* high energy efficiency, to keep running costs down and make a clear statement about sustainability

* smart, functional spaces with good daylight that create the feel of a home.

By getting these items right, Keeble says Essential can combine low running costs with flats that people want to not just rent, but to stay in – reducing voids and marketing costs, and maintaining long term asset value.

“The concept of selling housing as a service disrupts a market that has, until now, stigmatised renting for the many reasons we’re all too familiar with,” says Keeble. “In the PRS there’s a genuine opportunity to change how people live.”

Essential is working up private rented sector projects across London, and in key commuter locations including Maidenhead and Croydon. Several of its developments will see former office properties adapted and converted to create new apartments for long term rental.


Essential Living plans private rented development in Acton

Private rented developer Essential Living has bought a former perfume factory in Acton, west London, for conversion to a private rented homes development.

The site, currently home to two office buildings, has the potential to provide up to 500 homes, once redeveloped. Acton is currently the focus of much house builder and private rented sector activity, due to its position as one of the new Crossrail stations; this promises to provide residents with easy public transport access to central London and the City.

Essential Living plans to convert Berkshire House in Maidenhead into flats for private rental

Essential Living plans to convert Berkshire House in Maidenhead into flats for private rental

The site has the potential to take residential towers up to 20 storeys high, with a mix of homes. However, its offices are still occupied, and so any successful planning application could potentially lead to a residential project being completed no sooner than 2018.

Acton’s attractions mean others are taking an interest. Only last month, investor M&G forward funded a project in the area to develop flats specifically for rental.

Charlie Hustler, head of land at Essential Living, told Property Week: “This is our most ambitious project to date, both in terms of scale and scope. The housing offer will boast a range of high-quality apartments and mews homes, forming a truly sustainable community for west London.”

Essential Living's north London redevelopment site in Swiss Cottage

Essential Living’s north London redevelopment site in Swiss Cottage

Essential is backed by US investor M3 Capital Partners, and is already under way on a number of projects. It has bought several sites including an office block in central Maidenhead for conversion to flats, and an office site in Swiss Cottage, where 200 apartments are planned. While Essential’s strategy of buying office blocks and then obtaining planning consent for conversion is risky and slow initially, it does offer the company the potential for greater returns from the portfolio they ultimately develop.

Croydon private rented tower gets go ahead

Permission has been granted for an office conversion in Croydon that will create 420 new homes, of which 230 are destined for private sector rental. Work should start on site at the end of 2014, converting  Taberner House into a 32 storey residential tower full of rental flats.

The project is being driven by the Croydon Council Urban Regeneration Vehicle, which has signed a deal with private developer Essential Living to buy and lease out the rental flats in the tower. A separate transaction will see lower level blocks adjacent to the tower developed by Places for People, which will create 220 homes for flexible tenure sale.

Taberner House has been a landmark in the area for many years, and was formerly the council's own offices. 

Taberner House has been a landmark in the area for many years, and was formerly the council’s own offices. 

Jo Negrini, executive director of development and environment at Croydon Council welcomed the approval for the project. “This is a really exciting planning decision for Croydon and another high quality development for a prime site in our town centre – one that will provide much needed new housing with fantastic transportation links. This is another really important milestone for Croydon.”

Croydon is undergoing something of a makeover, with several of its tired 1960s office buildings undergoing transformation into residential use. A stand-off between rival developers over which retail scheme would proceed in the centre has also recently been settled, with Hammerson and Westfield now planning a major new shopping centre redevelopment.

CCURV has already made headway in the area, having started three previous redevelopment schemes. Founded in 2008, it has developed Bernard Weatherill House, the council’s new offices, which were completed in 2013; handled the Waddon leisure and housing project; and is working to redevelop the Lion Green car park site for foodstore and community use.