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Derwent Living commercial ventures supports affordable housing plans

Created on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
by Michael Futers

Derwent Living has been appointed to provide student accommodation to The University of Essex and as preferred bidder for The University of Hertfordshire.

Both schemes are a big coup for Derwent Living which is continuing to grow its commercial property portfolio in order to support the development of new affordable housing.

Artist’s impression

Derwent Living has been appointed by the universities as part of the Uliving Consortium, a joint venture between the housing provider and Bouygues Development, which aims to develop on-campus student accommodation through design, build, finance and operating contracts with British universities.

Through its commercial subsidiary Centro Place Investments, Derwent Living along with Bouygues and Equitix are the equity providers for the Essex student scheme and have invested, along with senior lender Aviva.

Derwent Living has invested a total of £2.3m and has also been appointed as the facilities manager. The £70million accommodation at The University of Essex which is due to open in 2013 will comprise 1,415 beds, which Derwent Living’s subsidiary Derwent FM will manage for a period of 50 years.  The 3,000 bed scheme at theUniversityofHertfordshirewill also be managed by Derwent FM.

These recent successes are just two in a long line of commercial ventures which the company has delivered in the past few years. Profits are being used to subsidise the development of new affordable housing in the absence of government funding.

Derwent Living has a proven track record of providing and managing high quality student accommodation across theUK. The company currently manages a student portfolio comprising 12,835 student beds at 25 locations making it one of the biggest operators in theUK.

Derwent Living chief executive Peter McCormack says: “We are delighted to have been selected to take forward these high profile and significant projects. We have an excellent track record of providing what students want and delivering exceptional standards of service to student communities across the country. We don’t just provide management. We also take part ownership as a demonstration of our commitment.

“Once the accommodation is complete and operational, we will see a healthy return on our investment and expect to see annual turnover of around £1.5million per year.

“At a time when the property and construction sectors are in decline, we are continuing to invest and grow as a positive response to a future with little or no public investment.

“By working as part of The Uliving Consortium, along with our subsidiary Derwent FM, Bouygues and Aviva, we are now much closer to our goal of working entirely without public funding and operating as a commercial organisation.”

These successes come on top of the landmark £55million deal in 2011 which saw 1135 properties transferred to its Derwent Living from another housing association.

The transfer brought Derwent Living’s stock total to around 15,000 properties – making it one of the largest housing associations in theMidlands. The deal was aUKfirst with pension funding made available by Aviva Investors.

Derwent FM has also been one of the company’s most successful commercial ventures to date, and now employs over 300 staff.

Peter continues: “Derwent FM is another success story for Derwent Living and as well as Essex and Hertfordshire, it has won numerous contracts from central government, health authorities and the education sector in the last 12 months, with no signs of slowing down.

“As an organisation our main priority is to our customers, both existing and new. At a time when the demand for affordable housing is still great and there is no funding available, we will continue to come up with innovative ways to enable us to provide housing options for people in need.”

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