ULI UK Launches Second Edition of Build to Rent Best Practice Guide

On Friday 4th March 350 people attended the highly anticipated launch of the ULI UK Residential Council publication, Build to Rent: A Best Practice Guide.

Despite the flurry of recent industry events around Build to Rent and the wider Private Rented Sector, this huge audience was eager to hear from the Steering Group who had worked for the past year to substantially revise and update the first edition. Launched in April 2014, when there was still significant market scepticism as to whether the nascent private rented sector in the UK was really going to succeed, it set out the differentiating factors in the design, development and management of purpose-built residential stock for the UK. Since then, Build to Rent has taken off in the UK, with a surge in forward funding, a number of major schemes announced and ongoing industry commitment, represented by the BPF launching their Build to Rent Manifesto in September 2015.

The Guide launch was opened by ULI UK Residential Council chair, Richard Meier, who outlined the context to the new edition, acknowledged the efforts of the Steering Group and Nick Jopling, the founding Residential Council chair and thanked the 70 individuals who volunteered on various Working Groups and Independent Review Panels to contribute to the Guide as it developed. He also thanked the launch sponsors, Assael Architecture, BLP Insurance and SLC Solicitors, and Steering Group partners, Allsop, Argent, CallisonRTKL, Cast, Greystar, Hoare Lea and Quod.

In a surprise development, Richard had to dash off across London to be interviewed live on Sky News business bulletin about the Guide. This mainstream TV coverage is surely a sign of the momentum behind Build to Rent going mainstream.

Taking over as moderator, Alex Notay, ULI UK Policy Director and Editor of the Guide, asked each Steering Group chapter lead to present highlights from their specific section – offering the attentive crowd a whistlestop tour through the updated sections on form and layout, sustainability, engineering and construction and fit-out specification; as well as insight into the brand new chapters on the customer, cost and procurement and planning and viability. A dynamic Q&A followed before a networking coffee break and the first chance for attendees to get their hands on a copy of the Guide! Over 200 copies were sold at the launch alone and subsequent orders mean a second print run is likely before Easter!

After this break, Nick Jopling resumed his familiar chair role to lead a diverse expert panel through their reflections on the new Guide and on the wider Build to Rent opportunities in the UK. The audience enjoyed the insights from Andrew Stanford, UK Residential Fund Manager, LaSalle Investment Management who, in his previous role as Chair of the PRS Taskforce, had co-commissioned the first edition and proudly stated that he still referred to it almost daily in meetings!

Fellow panellists Paul Beardmore, Director of Housing at Manchester City Council and Gerry More, PRS Champion for Scotland, both of whom had offered written endorsements for the Guide, shared insights from their respective regions proving that Build to Rent is certainly not an opportunity restricted to London and the South East.

As CEO, Thames Valley Housing Association, Geeta Nanda OBE, gave a different perspective on the importance of Build to Rent in offering a partial solution to the national housing crisis, particularly through the important role it can play in estate regeneration, placemaking and community development. Finally, Wes Fuller, Executive Managing Director of Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC shared some fascinating reflections from the perspective of a major US player (Greystar manage over 400,000 rental units in the domestic United States) now growing a significant operational business in the UK and Europe.

This preceded a panel discussion that could easily have carried on for another hour, but lunch was calling. Returned from his starring interview on Sky News, Richard Meier reiterated his thanks to the many people involved and invited all attendees to carry on learning and sharing, in the true spirit of ULI, in order to build an even stronger and better Build to Rent market in the UK.

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