£90m sale for Leeds and Sheffield sites

Property developer London & Scottish Property Investment Management (LSPIM) has sold two luxury student accommodation buildings for £90m.

The buildings, Crown House in Sheffield and Symons House in Leeds – which happens to currently be one of the tallest buildings in the city, have been sold to an unnamed Eastern investor.

Collectively the buildings are home to 700 students and were previously owned by a US-based private investor.

LSPIM purchased Crown House in Sheffield in 2015, redeveloping the former office block into create 355 studio bedrooms student development which opened in September 2017. This marked the first time the Glasgow business had entered the purpose built student accommodation market.

Symons House was acquired in 2017, with the developer converting a four-storey office building in into the 22-storey, 351 beds student accommodation which only opened in January.

A far cry from the student accommodation of yesteryear, the developer targeted the top end of the market, aiming to offer “excellent amenities with considerable personal space”. It created a design specification that could be replicated across other projects and sees both developments include 8,000 sq ft of amenity space such as lounges, a study area, a cinema, a fitness suite and outdoor areas with BBQ and open-air cinema.

Stephen Inglis, chief executive of London and Scottish Property Investment Management, said: “We are very pleased with the level of interest shown in these properties. We have developed a sound business model and have good relationships with both lenders and investors. As a result, these two projects – our first in the student accommodation sector – have been hugely successful for us.

“Having proved that the model works, we intend to reinvest the proceeds in further projects. We will definitely look at more student developments in university towns, but will also consider opportunities in other sectors.”

Rachel Pengilley, partner in Knight Frank’s student Property team, which marketed the schemes added: “This transaction represents the most significant deal in the UK student accommodation market since we entered lockdown in March. The best in class assets are located in prime university cities, with Crown House benefiting from a strong trading history.

“The acquisition demonstrates continued confidence in the sector from overseas investors, particularly at a time when there are some wider concerns regarding student numbers for the academic year 20/21. Despite a tumultuous first half of 2020, the long-standing fundamentals of the student sector remain attractive, and we are seeing renewed interest to acquire from a variety of funding sources.”