Reading build-to-rent scheme ready for lift-off
Construction work on a major build-to-rent scheme in Reading is set to get underway after developer Lochailort Investments completed deals with M&G as a funding partner and Watkin Jones as the main contractor.
It means the finance and construction resources are now in place for work to commence on the Thames Quarter scheme, which is located close to the town's railway station.
The central element will be a 22-storey landmark tower, the tallest residential building on Reading. This will feature 315 apartments, with a 24-hour concierge, private dining rooms, lounges, rooftop terraces, a private cinema and a tech hub. It will be built at the site of the old Cooper BMW premises on Napier Road.
The scheme will be the first build-to-rent development in the town and may prove highly popular with commuters, not least as Reading's links to London are being enhanced by the arrival of Crossrail.
Commenting on his firm's role in delivering the project, chief executive of Watkin Jones Mark Watkin said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to work with M&G and Lochailort to deliver this high specification build-to-rent scheme in Reading.
“It is particularly pleasing that our partners recognised our development expertise and we see this as a catalyst to securing more build-to-rent development opportunities."
Watkin Jones is expecting to deliver around 1,500 units on a build-to-rent basis over the next five years and commuter towns like Reading may increasingly become the focus as the sector expands.
Despite its proximity to London, the south east has lagged some way behind with build-to-rent in recent years.
The recent British Property Federation and Savills indicated that the majority of 118,000 units either under construction, completed or in the planning pipeline last year were in London, with nearly a third in the north-west. Other regions trailed far behind.
However, there are now over 20,000 homes outside London under construction compared with 12,611 in the capital, suggesting the centre of gravity is shifting outside the M25.
Developments such as the one in Reading may, therefore, be part of a wider trend, particularly in the areas with the best transport links.