Willmott Dixon’s private rental company be:here has agreed a deal to acquire 3.9 acres of the nine-acre Abbey Retail Park site in Barking from Estates & Agency Group. It plans to develop approximately 650 flats for the private rental sector (PRS) and will also manage the properties as landlord.
The deal remains subject to planning consent.
Estates & Agency Group received planning consent last year to develop a new Sainsbury’s store on the rest of the site, with demolition works on the new store set to start next month. The regeneration of the entire site is designed to create a whole new community in Barking.
This latest deal means that be:here now has more than 1300 homes in its private rental sector (PRS) portfolio.
Andrew Telfer, chief executive of Willmott Dixon’s development division, said: “Barking is a key milestone in be:here’s plans to create vibrant rental communities at scale across London and other major cities. What’s unique for us is that we will be the long-term operator of the apartments first and foremost, so our presence over many years means we have a keen interest in the success and growth of the wider community in central Barking.”
Iceni Projects is lead consultant on the project, supported by Broadway Malyan, architects, and i2 as development managers. Work will now start on a planning application, with the aim to be on site early in 2016. It is anticipated that the first homes will be available to rent in 2018.
The Barking project comes on the back of three recent contracts for Willmott Dixon’s house-building division, collectively worth £27m. The largest of these is an £11m project for Warwick District Council for 81 homes in Leamington Spa. Second is a £9m contract to build a further 80 retirement homes for Housing & Care 21 in Atherstone. Third is a £7m contract for Swindon Borough Council to build 48 affordable homes.