Bristol Partnership and Planning Approval
23 January 2020
THE UNITE GROUP PLC
('Unite Students', 'Unite', the 'Group', or the 'Company')
BRISTOL PARTNERSHIP AND PLANNING APPROVAL FOR BRISTOL DEVELOPMENT
The Unite Group plc, the UK's leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, has received resolution to grant planning permission for its 416-bed student accommodation development in Bristol city centre, incorporating the conversion of the former Georgian hospital building into 62 rented residential homes ('Old BRI').
The site occupies a prime location in Bristol city centre and will provide much-needed accommodation for students when delivered for the start of the 2021/22 academic year. Unite is in advanced discussions with the University of Bristol for a long-term nomination agreement on the scheme.
This forms part of a wider University Partnership discussion with the University of Bristol covering around 3,000 beds. This will include a large proportion of Unite's existing operational assets in the city following targeted investments and the Company's 650-bed development in close proximity to the University's new Temple Quarter campus.
The Old BRI scheme will generate a development yield of around 6%, reflecting the income visibility delivered through the wider University Partnership. The rented residential portion of the scheme includes 20% affordable units. Unite will deliver the residential portion of the scheme with the option of retaining or disposing of the homes on completion.
Richard Smith, Unite Students Chief Executive, commented:
"Bristol is one of the UK's leading university cities and continues to see strong growth in student numbers. We are delighted to be working towards an exciting partnership with the University of Bristol, which strengthens our long-standing and valuable relationship. Old BRI creates new supply in a city centre location where there is an acute shortage of high quality affordable student accommodation."
Simon Bray, Director of Campus Operations, University of Bristol commented:
"The University of Bristol has had a relationship with Unite for accommodation in the city for over 20 years. We are pleased that we had the opportunity to provide greater input in the design of the new offering and refurbishment of existing properties. Our priority is the needs of our students, ensuring they all have access to accommodation which provides them with real value for money. We believe the new arrangements with Unite will help provide this surety."
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For further information, please contact:
Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Paul Richmond
Tel: +44 (0)117 302 7005
Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop
Tel: +44 (0)20 7250 1446
Notes to editors:
About Unite Students
Unite Students is the UK's largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation serving the country's world-leading higher education sector.
Following our successful £1.4bn acquisition of Liberty Living's UK assets in November 2019, we now provide homes to c. 75,000 students across 175 properties in 27 leading university towns and cities.
Our people are driven by a common purpose: to provide the students who live with us a 'Home for Success' and to be the most trusted brand in the sector. We do this through quality service, quality people and quality properties, all designed on the basis of an excellent insight into students' needs and preferences.
Unite's accommodation is high quality, safe and secure, and located where students want to live. Students live predominantly in en-suite study bedrooms with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed Wi-Fi. MyUnite, our mobile app, provides practical support such as instant messaging and maintenance requests.
Our commitment to customer service is powered by an innovative, in-house operating platform. It provides a wide range of benefits to our students, such as an optimised online booking process, as well as providing us with a unique ability to drive value from our portfolio through scale efficiencies and revenue management.
Alongside delivering quality service, our other strategic priority is delivering growing and sustainable earnings, underpinned by a strong capital structure. A key part of this strategy is growing the number of beds let through partnerships with mid and high tariff universities which are experiencing record levels of student demand. We currently partner with some 50 universities across the UK, guaranteeing that approximately 60% of our rooms are let under 'nomination agreements' providing high visibility of forward occupancy and rental growth.
Unite is invested in and operates two specialist funds and joint ventures with institutional investment partners: the £3 billion Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF), and the £1 billion London Student Accommodation Vehicle (LSAV).
Unite is the founder of and major donor to the Unite Foundation, a charitable trust established to support talented students facing challenging financial circumstances through the provision of free accommodation annual scholarships. The Foundation has so far provided scholarships for 434 young people working in close collaboration with 27 partner universities.
Founded in 1991 in Bristol, Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 250 Index.
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