Inaugural event marks launch of UKAA’s new regional Build to Rent Hub to grow sector in the Midlands

  • Representatives from a range of national and local businesses, playing an active role in the region, will lead the UKAA’s work in the Midlands
  • UKAA Midlands Hub’s priorities will be to raise standards for residents, grow widespread awareness as well as share best practice and promote additional investment in Build to Rent

A room packed with build to rent (BTR) investors, operators, developers, and suppliers was joined by members of the UKAA leadership team last week on Wednesday, 28th June, at DLA Piper’s Birmingham offices for the launch of the brand-newMidlands BTR Hub.

Led by co-chairs Rebeca Taylor, Managing Director of BTR at Long Harbour and Tom Grey, Build to Rent Director at David Phillips, the Hub has been established on the back of the strong growth of BTR homes operated and in development in the region as well as its significant future potential.

The event, attended by over 100 guests, was introduced by UKAA’s CEO Brendan Geraghty who highlighted the significant regional demand for professionally managed homes in the Midlands. He noted the rapid expansion of the BTR industry UK-wide and stressed the Hub’s main objectives to deliver to regional requirements as well as contribute to the work of the wider UK Apartment Association (UKAA).

Knight Frank Partner and Head of Build to Rent, Jonathan Stephenson, was next, sharing an overview of the Midlands market with attendees. He focused on the current BTR supply and pipeline in the region, the capacity to significantly grow supply to match demand in the near future as well as some of the challenges facing development at the moment.

The highlight of the evening was the panel discussion which featured UKAA President and Director of BTR Operations at Godwin Developments, Lesley Roberts, Managing Director of Way of Life, Sowgol Zarinchang, UK Head of Planning for DLA Piper, Trevor Ivory, Regional Operations Manager of Urbanbubble, Rebecca Whitehead and Amit Kumar, UK Head of Operations at Heimstaden. Each of the prominent BTR figures shared their views on some of the most important topics of the day such as investor requirements for portfolio growth as well as how to minimise risk and maximise returns through innovative thinking, culture, and customer service. Learning lessons from the past and each other was seen as a critical factor in the sector’s evolution, as well as considering the role that AI and data will play in the future.

As one of the main legislative issues facing the sector in the Midlands, selective licencing occupied a major part of the debate in addition to the importance of the sector coming together to positively influence stakeholders. The social aspect of ESG was debated, with a particular focus on how to ensure better engagement, contribute to neighbourhoods and help residents get involved in shaping their communities. The panel saw a clear opportunity to turn the challenges of planning into a benefit by highlighting BTR’s contribution to regeneration and home delivery, as well as educating and supporting offices with issues on viability and flexibility.

In closing the event, Lesley Roberts emphasised local BTR hubs are best placed to deliver on a regional level as they have detailed knowledge of stakeholder groups. She invited all UKAA Midlands Hub members to get involved in shaping the agenda, meet regularly, be inclusive and share best practice with other established committees across the country.

The next Midlands Hub event will take place in November 2023, with details shared as soon as they are available. To register interest in attending please contact [email protected].