Michelle Beaumont, Real Estate Partner, Irwin Mitchell

The Real Estate Team at national law firm @IrwinMitchell has advised an overseas investor client, an SGX listed company, on the acquisition of a Purpose‐Built Student Accommodation (“PBSA”) property located in Bristol for £39.3 million.

The freehold property, Kings Square Studio, has a total of 301 beds, with the majority being studios. It is operating at near full occupancy for the current academic year 2020/21.

This is the third acquisition Irwin Mitchell’s client has made in this sector in Bristol, where it now has 600 beds.    Bristol is a strong regional city for PBSA, with two major universities and has a sizeable full‐time student population.

Kings Square Studio is located adjacent to the city centre and is near the universities. The property was originally purposed as an office building but underwent two phases of conversion to student accommodation in 2009 and 2013. It currently provides accommodation to students at institutions including University of Bristol, part of the Russell Group and University of the West of England, Bristol’s International College.

The acquisition is in line with the investor’s strategy to build alodging platform and grow recurring income streams. It now has over 3,500 beds across 12 properties in the UK.

The Irwin Mitchell team was led by Real Estate Partner Michelle Beaumont, who leads the firm’s housing. She was supported by Elizabeth Cook in Real Estate, Stuart Tym on Planning and Padma Tadi on employment.

Commenting on the deal, Michelle Beaumont said,

“Demand for PBSA in the UK’s university cities is growing, despite the short‐term uncertainties posed by COVID‐19. Location is an important factor for investors in deciding where to invest with a number of UK cities seen as strong candidates - Bristol being one of those.  Longer term the demand for student housing in the UK is supported by the UK’s well‐established status as a hub of higher education with student numbers predicted to rise. We are delighted to have advised our overseas client on its expansion in this marketplace.”

Overall demand for higher education in the UK has increased despite the impact of COVID‐19 this year. The number of students with confirmed place in a UK university increased by 4% for the academic year 2020/21* driven both by increase in domestic UK students’ enrolments, as well from international students from outside the EU. Based on enrolment figures for the academic year 2020/21 admission cycle, successful student placement from the UK and outside the EU increased by 4% and 9% respectively.

Irwin Mitchell’s Real Estate Housing Sector has advised on a number of high profile schemes in the sector, including Phase I of New Era Square Sheffield for New Era Developments and on PBSA schemes for Select Property in Leeds, Southampton and Birmingham under its brand Vita Student.

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