HOT on the heels of being ranked the number one place to live and work, Warrington has now been rated as one of the top five hotspots for developers and investors to build-to-rent (BTR).
The town has been identified as one of five areas in the UK for BTR growth, according to research carried out by BTR provider Wise Living, following continued growth for the sector throughout 2020.
Build-to-rent is still a relatively new market in the UK, but it continues to boom as demand rises for quality rental homes. It refers to developments and homes that have been purpose-built by developers or property businesses for renting. Once built, these properties will then be managed by a landlord or a property management company who will oversee the communal areas and maintenance of the homes.
Wise Living’s research criteria focused on a number of key factors that indicate a city or town’s BTR potential. This included the rental market in each area, the rental availability per 100,000 of the population, government funding and BTR investments in the planning stages, under construction or complete. It also considered the quality of education by Ofsted rating and the density of each location’s population.
Warrington ranked fourth on the list after rating highly against Wise Living’s research criteria. The town already has BTR developments in planning and under construction. A 161 residential scheme which will see the redevelopment of two former school sites on behalf of the council is already under construction. Other BTR plans have been put forward in recent years including for a 362-bed scheme forming part of the £190m Stadium Quarter regeneration area.
The town also has 77 rental properties per 100,000 and 47 good and outstanding rated schools or places of education. Warrington received £22.1M from the government in 2020 as part of its Town Deals. The funds will be put towards helping to utilise vacant spaces and restore areas of the town – making it an attractive proposition for investors and developers looking at potential sites for BTR in the area.
Stoke-On-Trent, Norwich, Peterborough and Hull make up the rest of the top five.
Paul Staley, Director at Wise Living, says the areas its research has identified may come as a surprise to some but that trends away from big city living makes locations like Warrington, good opportunities for developers, investors and, most importantly, tenants. He says:
“In 2020 there was a clear trend for suburban living. Rental demand in the bigger cities and town centres shrank due to the impact of the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home and not needing to live close to work – instead people have more freedom to choose where they live.
“It means renters searching for quality properties are now looking in the suburbs of smaller cities and towns where it is quieter, they have easier access to green space and quality education for their family. We saw this first-hand in 2020 with a number of our BTR developments, including in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, where the first phase of our Old Brewery development was completely reserved online in a matter of weeks.
“That’s why the likes of Warrington, where BTR developments are already underway, are big opportunities for investors and developers looking to grow their portfolio in the BTR market.”
The latest available data for the UK BTR market makes for good reading. In Q3 of 2020 there were 37,000 units under construction and around 84,000 in planning in the UK – with over 90,000 estimated to have been in planning by the end of 2020. Many of these units are for apartment blocks in town and city centres, which is why Wise Living continues to deliver quality BTR homes to undersupplied suburbs.
Despite the challenges last year, the BTR market continued to show its resilience and demand for quality rental homes across the UK remained high and is expected to in 2021.