Contracts exchanged on multi-million pound student scheme

Developer Watkin Jones has signed a multi-million pound deal with an investment firm to deliver a student scheme in Bristol.

The deal with KKR will see an 819-bed purpose-built student housing scheme built in Dalby Avenue in Bedminster.

The funds will be payable to Watkin Jones over the course of the development, which is due for completion in August 2024, and includes an initial £25m payment.

KKR is making the investment through its European Core Plus Real Estate strategy, which focuses on investments in high-quality, substantially stabilised assets with long-term growth potential.

When it is completed the scheme will be fully leased to the University of Bristol on a long-term basis.

The development will include a mix of five to 12 bed flats together with 15,000 sq.ft. of internal shared space as well as a private terrace, courtyard, and gardens.

The PBSA scheme is in one of the five key sites identified in Bristol City Council’s Bedminster Green Framework as a priority for redevelopment.

Alex Pease, chief investment officer at Watkin Jones, said: “We are delighted to have secured our second deal with KKR, and would like to thank them for their efforts and partnership approach in reaching this agreement. This is an exciting opportunity to develop a key area of regeneration in the Bedminster area of Bristol for the ever-growing student needs in the city.

“The sale is further evidence of the attractive investment and operational fundamentals of both PBSA as a sector and Bristol as a city and a good sign of investment markets re-opening.

“Watkin Jones has a strong track record of developing PBSA schemes in Bristol as rising demand continues, including work recently completed at Wilder Street and Unity Street last year, in addition to work currently underway on a PBSA site on Gas Lane.

“We are really excited as Bristol is widely regarded as one of the UK’s top university towns for education but also it represents one of the most vibrant and inclusive cities for students to live. Offering a wide range of bars, shops, and restaurants, it is a city for students to enjoy.”

Seb d’Avanzo, managing director and head of real estate acquisitions for KKR in Europe, said: “We’re delighted to be investing in this well-located PBSA scheme which will deliver exceptional-quality accommodation for one of the UK’s top universities.

“Watkin Jones is a leading developer and manager in the sector, and we are pleased to undertake another attractive venture with Alex and his team. The student housing market has compelling and resilient fundamentals and this property benefits from a long-term lease, making it a good fit for our Core Plus Real Estate strategy and our growing ambitions in the student housing sector.”

Watkin Jones were advised by Cushman & Wakefield and Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

KKR were advised by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.