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Moorfield to invest in University of Essex Student Accommodation

Moorfield Group, the UK-focused real estate fund manager, announces that it has entered into a development agreement with Melberry Developments (“Melberry”), on behalf of Moorfield Real Estate Fund IV, for a 282-room PBSA development in the historic market town of Colchester. In line with its ambitious 2030 net zero commitment, the project, which has Gross Development Value of £40 million, incorporates Moorfield’s first ESG-linked development agreement, with the development team specifically incentivised to achieve a BREEAM “Excellent” rating.

The high-quality scheme, designed by architects HNW and engineers Campbell Reith is expected to complete for the start of the 2023/24 academic year. It will deliver 282 cluster and studio rooms across nine floors, offering generous amenity facilities including social, study and gaming spaces as well as indoor and outdoor fitness suites.

Through both the design and construction stages and once operational, pioneering technology and engineering methods will be used to target reduced embodied and operational emissions, as well as using recycled materials. The building will include Air Source Heat Pump heating of the hot water system, with zero gas usage, and it will be smart system enabled as well as incorporating a greywater irrigation system and charging points for Electric Vehicles.

Located on Hawkins Road, a short walk from the main campus of the University of Essex, students will benefit from the building’s strong transport connections, with nearby Hythe railway connecting to Colchester mainline station. The University of Essex is a top 40 UK university which was named University of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards in 2018.

The scheme represents the first time that Moorfield has worked with Melberry Developments, who have a track record in delivering successful PBSA projects.  Watkin Jones, a PBSA and Build-to-Rent specialist, has been appointed as the contractor to deliver the scheme.

Ross Netherway, Head of Origination at Moorfield Group, commented: “Sustainability sits at the core of Moorfield’s strategy, and this latest student development, working with partners who share our ethos, will be our most environmentally friendly scheme yet. It is well placed to bring together growing consumer and investor interest in the environment and sustainable development. The PBSA sector has been one of our conviction calls for over 20 years, and despite the short-term disruption caused by the pandemic, the longer-term demographic drivers remain hugely favourable. The University of Essex faces a critical supply / demand imbalance of high-quality student accommodation, which underpins our confidence in the future success of this scheme.”