The High Street Group has completed the first project in its build-to-rent pipeline, delivering much-needed new rental housing in central Milton Keynes on behalf of Grainger plc, the UK’s largest listed landlord.
The £31m scheme has now been officially handed over to owner and operator, Grainger plc, with the first residents now moved in following a 24-month build programme delivered by maintenance and new housing specialist – United Living.
Named Solstice Apartments, the 139-home scheme offers a mix of one-and-two-bedroom apartments designed and built specifically for rent. Fifteen percent of the apartments have been pre-let by Grainger prior to the development’s opening, underlining the demand for high-quality rental properties in Milton Keynes town centre.
To help create a genuine community within the building a range of on-site resident amenities are being provided, including communal landscaped gardens, roof terraces, coworking zone and fitness centre. Grainger’s inhouse management team will also run a series of resident events.
Access to these shared spaces is included in the rent, along with super-fast Wi-Fi and on-site professional management, with no service charge applied. Rents start at £1,050pcm for a one-bed apartment.
To cater to a range of transport needs, 168 bicycle storage spaces and car parking for 120 vehicles have been provided on-site.
Solstice Apartments is located in the heart of Milton Keynes’ social and cultural hub and within easy reach of central train station, with regular services into London Euston, and is close to a number of significant local employers such as Santander, BP Mobil, Deloitte and Home Retail Group.
The homes will help support Milton Keynes Council’s strategy to help attract and retain skilled young professionals by offering housing that is both flexible and secure in tenure, with Grainger plc offering optional ‘stay-as-long-as-you-like’ multi-year tenancies.
Of the 139 homes, 14 apartments will be provided at what is known as ‘discount market rent’, with starting rents of £840pcm. These apartments will be available to households earning under £30,000 that live and work in central Milton Keynes as part of an agreement with Milton Keynes council.
The development of Solstice Apartments was supported by an unconditional agreement from Grainger plc to forward fund, as well as acquire, the project from High Street Group for just over £31m.
The project, which sits on the site of a former office block, is part of The High Street Group’s strategy to build sustainable communities that provide long-term income for partners and investors through the private rental sector model.
The High Street Group is currently engaged in the delivery of build-to-rent projects in locations including Newcastle, Birmingham, Warrington and Manchester, all of which will enhance urban living opportunities in these locations.
Gary Forrest, Chairman of The High Street Group, said: “We are exceptionally proud to have delivered our first build-to-rent development in the UK, which will help meet the demand for high quality, contemporary homes in Milton Keynes.
“Having the early commitment from such a respected PRS specialist as Grainger plc, along with the expert project delivery from United Living has ensured that we could realise our vision for this development and set a blueprint of how we see the build-to-rent sector evolving.
“Solstice Apartments will become a community in its own right by providing long-term rental homes for aspiring young professionals, which will be key to helping employers attract and retain skills in the town.”
Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, Grainger plc comments: “We are extremely pleased to be opening our first build-to-rent scheme in Milton Keynes. Solstice Apartments will provide high quality, professionally managed homes that have been purpose-built for renting and come with a range of additional resident amenities and services.
“At Grainger, we aim to redefine the rental experience in the UK and we believe Solstice Apartments will raise the bar for what renters in Milton Keynes can expect.”
Richard Baker, Regional Director (Midlands and Wales), with United Living, said: “This is a milestone development for us; the first of our private rental sector projects to reach completion. It is one of the first large scale residential developments in the UK to benefit from the latest generation of smart meters, which will help people manage bills and reduce carbon output.
“Our proactive approach, in partnership with The High Street Group and Grainger plc, enabled us to improve the specification of the project as it progressed, to deliver a truly impressive living space.”