Call for Build to Rent in the UK to be expanded and include more affordable homes

Build to Rent development in London is over double that in the rest of the UK, with a new manifesto calling for more affordable homes to be included in such schemes.

There are over 14,276 units in planning, completed or under construction in London compared to 7,112 in the rest of the country, according to the new data from the British Property Federation.

They also show that there are at least 3,404 completed units in London, compared to 240 in the rest of the UK.

The organisation has published a new manifesto for the Build to Rent sector, in which it urges government to follow the lead of the Greater London Authority (GLA), and change national planning policy to stress that the appropriate affordable housing on new Build to Rent developments should be discounted market rent.

It says that this helps development viability, but also allows the investor to manage the ‘affordable’ and ‘market rented’ elements as one, in a tenure blind manner. The BPF has long championed the role that Build to Rent has to play in expanding housing delivery, attracting long term investment that has the potential to significantly boost housing supply.

Recent research has shown that Build to Rent can deliver homes at 2.5 times the speed of developments for sale, and that there is £10 billion of firm commitments and as much as £30 billion that the sector has ready to invest this Parliament. The £10 billion of investment identified for Build to Rent would create around £28 billion of wider economic benefit.

‘It has felt for a long time that Build to Rent has been on the cusp of becoming a sector in its own right. Today, we are proud to show that the sector has really taken off, and it is great to see how many fantastic projects are either underway or completed, and that residents have quality rented homes,’ said Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation.

‘There is more that can be done to encourage the sector to grow, however. The GLA has paved the way for Build to Rent, introducing both ambitious targets and supplementary planning guidance, and the map launched today shows that this has really paid off,’ she explained.

‘Government has everything to gain from encouraging this sector, which will attract significant institutional investment into UK housing supply, deliver new homes quickly, and drive up standards in the private rented sector, and we hope to see it continue to support it,’ she added.

Andrew Stanford, residential fund manager at LaSalle Investment Management and chairman of the BPF’s Build to Rent Committee said that the momentum behind Build to Rent continues and it is moving firmly beyond theory and into reality.

‘With continued support from both national and local government this progress can continue. The growing number of long-term institutional investors in the sector will then find a suitable home for their capital, ensuring that housing supply and tenant choice can increase,’ he added.

Other recommendations in the manifesto include that a Plan for Build to Rent National policy should oblige local authorities to measure demand for market rented housing and to plan for that demand, allocating land in local plans for Build to Rent.

It also calls for the better use of public land to be promoted with the government issuing revised guidelines which give greater comfort to councils that public sector land deals that might not generate the greatest instant profit, but provide an income stream and meet best value.

It would like to see reform of the community infrastructure levy and local authorities considering a separate rate for Build to Rent in their charging schedules, to reflect the sector's different viability to build for sale.