The number of flats in Leeds city centre could be set to nearly double in the next seven years, as the city prepares to welcome an influx of new residents.
A leading property expert says he anticipates that the current 11,000 flats could grow to 20,000 by 2023 thanks to a series of new high-end rental blocks that offer everything from gyms and cinemas to pools and roof-top sports courts.
Graham Bates, CEO of LIV, which offers advice and management for build-to-rent schemes, says he is working with institutional investors on projects that will deliver thousands of flats as developers once again turn their attention to Leeds and their plush, amenity-rich apartment schemes.
He is advising a number of clients on build-to-rent, also known as private rented sector (PRS) ventures, in Leeds. They include American fund AIG, which is investing in the Clarendon Quarter to create 330 flats on the edge of the city centre. Meanwhile, London-based neighbour.co.uk has acquired Flax Place, which has planning permission for 200 flats.
One of the first schemes out of the ground in Leeds will be at Quarry Hill, where Moda Living plans to build 705 apartments in two phases. It should be on site in early 2017 with the first homes ready to rent by 2019.
Moda is now a key player in the PRS sector. A company borne out of respected Yorkshire construction firm Caddick, it is backed by Apache Capital Partners and has 5,000 flats in the pipeline across the UK, including its flagship Angel Gardens development in Manchester.
Tony Brooks, of Moda Living, says: “We started working on plans for purpose-built rental accommodation three years ago. It is all about creating a long-term income stream. In terms of build style, it is about quality, longevity and creating a community. The management style is hospitality.”
Graham Bates, who offers advice on location, planning, design and fit-out for rental block projects across the UK, says rents for the swish new apartments in Leeds will be up to 20 per cent higher than most other city centre flats. He believes that tenants will be happy to pay.
“People will pay more for quality. The old world was boxes thrown up by developers that no-one could live in long term. This new world is about bigger, well-designed homes with an emphasis on creating a community. People will stay in a building longer if they make friends, which is why amenities are such a big part of the PRS offering,” says Graham, who adds that quality of service is another key aspect.
“The bar is set low at the moment. If something is wrong with your rented flat, the letting agent will contact the private landlord and he may or may not be responsive. With PRS, you have one landlord for the building who is highly responsive.”