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Moorfield Extends UK Footprint with Co-Living Investment in West London

Moorfield Group, the UK-focused real estate fund manager, on behalf of its Moorfield Real Estate Fund IV, has agreed to forward fund an 81 bed best-in-class co-living scheme near Ealing Broadway, West London, for £21 million. It represents Moorfield’s entry into the fast-growing London co-living sector, which is expected to be a beneficiary of demand from young professionals looking for affordable, high quality and flexible accommodation.

The transaction is the first investment by a joint venture between Moorfield and Funding House (the “Zennor” partnership), offering experienced developers in the UK ‘Living’ sector the opportunity to enter into forward funding agreements with an experienced and well-respected investment partner. A co-investment mechanism permits developers to generate additional returns through the increased value of assets anticipated following operational stabilisation.

Having acquired the site in November 2019, subject to planning, and subsequently secured consent for 81 units, Urbane London, the specialist, London-focused residential developer, will act as the development manager. 

The Squire & Partners designed scheme is expected to be ready for its first residents in late 2023. It will offer 81 high quality en-suite studios across a range of unit types, alongside 1,800 sq ft of amenity space including a south facing roof terrace, co-working space, kitchens and storage for 83 bikes. The BREEAM Very Good scheme has strong environmental and social credentials including an air source heat pump, photovoltaic panels, no gas services, a biophilic design, and a private rooftop for residents to aid wellbeing.

The property is located less than a one-minute walk from Ealing Broadway station, a major single-level interchange station which will connect residents to Heathrow in 15 minutes, Bond Street in 11 minutes, and Canary Wharf in 25 minutes, via the soon to open Elizabeth Line. Ealing was ranked the third best place to live in London last year and benefits from a diverse food and beverage, leisure, hospitality, outdoor amenity and lifestyle offering, which is expected to further underpin strong demand for an affordable, well-designed rental proposition.

The opportunity in the London co-living sector is supported by rapid population growth and a chronic shortage of housing, with the Mayor of London’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment identifying the need for 66,000 additional homes per annum in the capital. London’s population is forecast to reach 9.5 million by 2026, with the private rented sector accounting for 35% of housing. As a result of urbanisation and densification, and with flexibility increasingly cited as a key factor for renters, co-living is well positioned to meet the demand of those people who either don’t want to or are unable to acquire their own home, with the average house in London costing 15x average earnings. Furthermore, the residential sector has been one of the most resilient since the start of 2020.

Ross Netherway, head of origination at Moorfield Group, commented: “Increasing demand, underpinned by a growing youthful population and exacerbated by housing undersupply and limited affordability, underpins our conviction in the nascent London co-living sector. This acquisition is fully aligned with our strategy of pioneering investment in sectors benefitting from demographic and societal change, and will deliver a high quality, amenity-led rental product with strong sustainability credentials, in one of London’s most dynamic and well-connected submarkets.

“We are also excited to be partnering with Funding House, pairing our proven investment expertise with experienced and reputable developers in the living sectors capable of delivering sustainable and future-proofed schemes. At the same time, the partnership’s co-investment structure offers developers the opportunity to generate attractive additional returns and ensures all parties are aligned in delivering the highest quality rental product and service to residents.”

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