A former government tax office on Liverpool waterfront is to be converted to private rented sector apartments by invester Moorfield Group and development partner Glenbrook. The project is an example of the imaginative reuse of unwanted office space, providing much-needed accommodation.
The £30 million project will create 240 apartments with one, two or three bedrooms, with the aim it will be “one of Liverpool’s best residential schemes”, according to Charles Ferguson Davie of Moorfield. Work starts imminently, and should be complete in September 2015.
The office block has been empty since 2012, when tax staff were transferred to other buildings. In March, permission was granted for the change of use to residential.
“This is a landmark asset in Liverpool’s thriving city centre, and part of a larger strategic push into the PRS sector for funds managed by Moorfield,” said Davie.
Velocity Village, Sheffield, a previous Moorfield private rented project
Moorfield is already working on a private rented sector development in Sheffield, called Velocity Village. There, a mixed development includes offices and 443 apartments, which are renting from £395 per month.
Developer Urban Splash is planning to grow its private rented portfolio, after making it through a period when it had to concentrate on survival and the reduction in company debts.
Chief executive Tom Bloxham now plans to more than double the company’s private rented sector portfolio, having finalised recent refinancing deals. Agreements with new funder the Pears Group came alongside a deal to sell £77 million of homes – a 654 flat portfolio in Manchester, Plymouth, Bristol, Bradford and Leeds – to housing association Places for People.
In contrast with other forms of property development and investment, residential property has proven longevity, said Bloxham. “We’re still living in residential apartments that were built hundreds of years ago,” he told Property Week. “We believe it’s a market that’s here to stay, it’s a market that we know very well and it’s a market we are looking for opportunities to build another 1,000 plus units.” Despite the changes the company has been forced to make, it still operates a portfolio of more than 800 private rented homes.
With London already overpriced, Bloxham says the time is right to turn attentions to regional markets. His company has long experience in Birmingham, and in Sheffield, where it took on the refurbishment of the Park Hill flats, a substantial development of a listed block of former council flats that overlook Sheffield centre.