Q&A: Manchester BTR attracts investor demand

We spoke with Tom France, Head of UK Investment at Round Hill Capital about its flagship Build to Rent scheme, why Manchester, its wider strategy and more.

Tom France, Head of UK Investment, Round Hill Capital | BTR News
Tom France, Head of UK Investment, Round Hill Capital.

Round Hill Capital recently announced its joint venture with Olympian Homes, to deliver its £165m flagship Build to Rent scheme in Manchester. The forward funding investment transaction also marked the company’s 20th anniversary.

Following the news, we spoke with Tom France, Head of UK Investment at Round Hill Capital about its flagship scheme, why Manchester, the company’s wider Build to Rent strategy, and what else we can expect from its anniversary year.

Why did Round Hill Capital and Olympian Homes choose Manchester for this development?

After London, Manchester is the UK’s largest Build to Rent market. Its diverse character, bustling amenities, world-class educational facilities, and vibrant business opportunities are all helping to drive rental demand in the city. This is driving an imbalance in housing supply and demand, with rents in Manchester forecast to grow 16.5% over the next five years, outperforming any other city in the UK. This shortage is especially acute in the centre, and the Fairfax development is well located, just five minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station. Tenant experience and amenities are at the centre of the design, with convenience enhanced by the highly anticipated High Speed Two (HS2) railway. 

Tell us about the development, do you know who will be operating it and what residents can expect?

The asset, due for completion in Spring 2025, will be operated by our in-house property management team at Round Hill Capital, who have a strong track record in managing living sector assets across Europe. At Round Hill Capital we understand the needs of our residents, and utilise insights from their ongoing feedback, as well as our local market knowledge, to ensure all new developments are designed and managed to the benefit of our residents.

This is enhanced by our vertical integration as a business and being able to easily share information between our investment, development, asset management and property management teams. Residents can expect a wide range of amenities – such as a gym, private dining room and integrated app services – that combine to create an unforgettable and professional residual experience at an affordable price point compared to competitive schemes.

What value will it add to the Manchester Build to Rent sector?

As a ‘second generation’ asset, we benefit from being able to design a quality home that truly provides what our future tenants desire. Round Hill Capital has been looking at the UK Build to Rent market for some time – which combined with our experience across Europe’s wider residential market – has enabled us to create value for both our residents and the local economies. 

I see this is Round Hill Capital ‘s flagship Build to Rent asset in the UK, are there plans for more? How does this deal tie into Round Hill Capital’s wider Build to Rent strategy?

Round Hill Capital has long been a leader in the accommodation sector, having invested across countries such as Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic. Following our early investment into the UK’s purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector in 2012, we recognise that Build to Rent is offering a more affordable and flexible alternative to home ownership for young professionals and families, many of whom have stayed in professionally managed PBSA properties. It is no wonder that we have seen demand for rental homes increase by 43% based on a five-year average. Our plan is to increase scale within the UK in both Build to Rent, PBSA, single family and senior living sectors. Having our own internal property management team and partners with boots on the ground has significantly benefited our understanding of the UK housing market, with our investment acquisition team working hand in hand with our operational team.

What else can we expect to see for Round Hill Capital’s 20th anniversary year?

Marking Round Hill Capital’s 20th anniversary year, we are looking to capitalise on growing investor appetite and consumer demand for quality Build to Rent assets in major UK cities. Focusing on accommodation as a fundamental need, we have refined our approach to meet the growing demand for beds. We recognise that it is one of the most consistent asset classes in the world, and to deliver accommodation with market leading returns we must remain agile. We also take an innovative approach to design and embrace evolving technology to meet customer expectations for modern housing. Technology is key for tenant retention, something we have embedded within our Build to Rent portfolio, using data and insights on how people really live to future-proof the sector.