KJA’s Executive Chair, Kathy Jones, visited London last week to attend the Property Council of Australia’s study tour of the U.K. capital.

As part of the visit she attended two site visits at Canary Wharf in East London and Greenford Quay in West London. She also heard from The Honourable George Brandis QC, the High Commissioner for Australia to the United Kingdom.

Here, Kathy provides five key learnings from her visit:

  1. Build to Rent is a distinct asset class. It refers to properties, in a development of more than 50 homes, that are built for the rental market, covenanted to stay for rent for at least 15 years and operated under a single, unified ownership.

  2. Build to Rent has momentum in London. The Greenford Quay site in Ealing will deliver almost 2,000 new homes and it was brought forward by Greystar who are the largest BTR operator in the US. Changes in the U.K. regulatory and tax environment have helped to attracted investment from big institutions which has been essential in the sector’s growth.

  3. BTR is not an affordable housing tenure, it is a commercially viable asset class that is now recognised as such in U.K. planning policy. Greystar, who have several projects in the UK, are delivering a return to their investors whilst also providing high-quality rental accommodation for those who want it in London. The Canary Wharf Estate will also now see BTR built for the first time which is only possible now as it is a commercially viable proposition.

  4. Modern methods of construction (MMC), including modular build, are being used to deliver housing more quickly in London, particularly on BTR schemes. This means communities are less inconvenienced as builds are much quicker and investors see quicker returns on their investment. It is win, win all round.

  5. As the High Commissioner said Brexit is an opportunity for the U.K. and Australia to strengthen our ties through trade and best practice sharing. For instance, on BTR, we can learn from the way the U.K. has encouraged the sector to grow and apply those learnings here in Australia. In the U.K. they are increasing keen to learn from our engagement practitioners on the tools and methodologies we use here, such as Citizens’ Commissions