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Build to Rent: Site Review

In the first of a series of project reviews on the emerging Build to Rent (BtR) sector Richard Bowser looks at the BE Living scheme in Hayes, west London.

These are the opening words from BE’s director, Simon Chatfield when I met him at their rental-only apartment complex in Hayes: “We wanted to positively change the ‘rental experience’ and also deliver good financial returns for our institutional investors.”

The scheme is located just a few hundred metres from Hayes railway station, which from next year will offer a mere 35 minute journey time across London to Canary Wharf via the new Elizabeth Line (Crossrail 1).

The area around the station is clearly undergoing significant regeneration and the BE scheme is just one of a number of developments which are being built on what was previously a major centre of employment in the music industry with EMI. At its peak in the 1960’s some 14,000 people worked in factories and offices on record (vinyl) production on a site covering some 18 acres and the location has now been re-branded as The Old Vinyl Factory.  

Alongside a number of apartment schemes, both for sale and for rent, there are commercial occupiers with offices, whilst a Vue cinema complex is also planned as part of the wider regeneration plans and the first retail spaces are now taking shape with some 10,000 sq ft of retail space planned. In five to ten years time it’s likely that the area will be radically transformed.

At the BE scheme there are 119 rental units in total and tenants have now been in occupation since early 2017. I asked Simon what were BE looking to achieve at Hayes and how have they gone about creating the positive ‘rental experience’ he had first mentioned.

“We sent out 8,000 electronic surveys to renters and also conducted a series of focus groups whereby we sat and talked with renters to find out what they wanted. They told us what they liked and did not like within a rental property and also ideally how they wanted their landlord to behave. This very detailed feedback inspired us to create a rental product which we believe, for our tenant customers, is very different to what many landlords are offering.”

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