Build to Rent Scottish breakthrough

With Build to Rent in Scotland behind that of England, Partner and Build to Rent lead at Thomas & Adamson discusses its breakthrough.

Platform_'s Bonnington Road Build to Rent scheme in Edinburgh. Thomas & Adamson is providing cost management and health and safety advisor services for the developer | BTR News
Platform_'s Bonnington Road Build to Rent scheme in Edinburgh. Thomas & Adamson is providing cost management and health and safety advisor services for the developer.

Build to Rent looks set to make a breakthrough north of the border after years of lagging behind England. Factors unlocking development in Scotland include rising demand amid falling supply and the Build to Rent concept aligning with central and local government aims.

John McGuire, Partner and Build to Rent lead, Thomas & Adamson (T&A)

Demand for rented housing in Scotland rose by over a third in the first three months of this year, according to figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). At the same time the number of new letting instructions from landlords halved, suggesting that the imbalance of supply and demand will push rents up faster in Scotland than in England.

I believe that this could reflect a change away from homeownership towards rental living, more akin to the pattern of housing in continental Europe. Historically, Scottish cities have had more in common with their European neighbours, relying on apartment living, making their centres more compact.

Build to Rent might also be seen as a step towards the desire for urban densification, and the associated reduction in carbon resulting from reduced commuter travel. Build to Rent suits city living: no car required, surrounded by amenities, and a flexibility in apartment mix to suit changing lifestyles. The creation of neighbourhoods designed so residents can meet most of their day-to-day needs within a 20-minute walk of their home, through access to safe walking and cycling routes, or by public transport.

A 2020 study concluded that urban density ‘boosts productivity and innovation, improves access to goods and services, reduces typical travel distances, encourages energy-efficient construction and transport, and allows broader sharing of scarce urban amenities’.

T&A provides a range of services from offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They include cost and project management, m&e solutions, building surveying and construction safety.

The company is providing cost management and health and safety advisor services for Build to Rent developer Platform_ on several major Build to Rent schemes in Glasgow and Edinburgh, including the redevelopment of the former John Lewis depot at Bonnington Road in Edinburgh. The development consists of 464 apartments across three distinct buildings with private courtyards, rooftop terraces and on-site communal amenities such as a home working area, cafe and a bike club.

It is also providing project management and principal designer services to Moda and Osborne+Co on their joint venture acquisition of the 15.5-acre Saica Packaging Factory site West of Edinburgh city centre. This strategic development will create a new residential area of over 1,000 homes, forming part of the Edinburgh City Plan 2030 to transform the West of the city.

Edinburgh accounts for a third of the 11,000-plus Build to Rent homes in the pipeline in Scotland. More than half of those planned or on site in Scotland are in Glasgow. This aligns with Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Living Strategy which has a target of doubling the city centre’s population to 40,000 in 15 years.

In addition to Scottish projects, T&A is also providing services on projects south of the border for Platform_ on their 182-unit development in Crawley, which forms part of a major redevelopment of Crawley Borough Council premises and a 335 unit development at Sylvester Street Sheffield. Both projects have been designed to create new permanent communities in the heart of their city centres.

Build to Rent is the vanguard in a move toward a ‘subscription style’ of living. We are accustomed to having our phones, media content, even some of our food deliveries on a subscription contract. It is perhaps no surprise that our housing is beginning to reflect a similar trend.