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Barings Acquires Prime Student Accommodation in Brighton

Barings, one of the world’s largest diversified real estate investment managers, on behalf of a core strategy, has agreed the forward purchase of Crown House, a high-quality student accommodation asset in Brighton, for £43.7 million from Studious Investment Management.

Due for completion in July 2022, ahead of the 2022 to 2023 academic year, Crown House is located in the heart of the city with easy access to the main Brighton University campus and train station. The scheme will provide a total of 183 beds, including a range of studio accommodation, with views over the city and the sea. The development also includes class-leading amenity provision with extensive facilities for residents including a fitness suite, gaming room, dinner party room, private study rooms and various seating and lounge space. Unusually for a student scheme in Brighton, students will benefit from immediate proximity to the city’s main leisure and retail amenities and its many renowned landmarks such as The Lanes, Brighton Pier and the seafront.

Studious’ repurposing of the 57,000 sq ft building has enhanced its ESG credentials, including through the retention of the embodied carbon in its existing frame. Barings is now working with the developer to deliver initiatives to build further on its BREEAM Very Good certification and Fitwell accreditation.

Brighton is a popular student city as the location of both Brighton University and the University of Sussex, which have a combined student population of nearly 40,000 students.  Brighton’s student population has grown at 3.32% per annum over the last 10 years, which outperforms the national average, while its supply of student accommodation has significantly lagged this expansion with 74% of the city’s students unable to access purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA).

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: “This has been our second student accommodation acquisition in the UK in the past year and we continue to have substantial and growing appetite for further investments in the sector. Of particular interest are cities where supply remains constrained, the local economy is well diversified and robust, and there is a proven depth of occupier demand. We are interested in the full risk spectrum ranging from Value-add to Core, be it new developments or refurbishments.

He added: “The student accommodation sector has demonstrated its resilience throughout the pandemic – with UCAS applications at an all-time high last year – and Brighton’s chronic undersupply of high-quality PBSA made this a compelling investment opportunity.”