Award-winning Assael Architecture’s designs to transform the former Bristol Fire Station and a vacant brownfield site at Aubrey Place have been granted planning permission to develop 546 Build to Rent (BtR) and affordable homes in the centres of Bristol and Milton Keynes, with developers Cubex and Packaged Living, both backed by Palmer Capital, respectively.
The next phase of Finzels Reach on the former Avon Fire & Rescue site has been designed by Assael in collaboration with architects The Bush Consultancy and developed by Cubex to provide 231 Build to Rent homes in Millwrights Place, 66 affordable homes in Coopers Court, and over 116,000 sq ft of office space in the Halo building.
The second development, Aubrey Place, is Packaged Living’s latest BtR venture and will create 294 new apartments, as well as a 44-room aparthotel available for short term lets. Included in the scheme will be the tallest residential building in Milton Keynes at 18 storeys.
Both of these developments showcase Assael’s extensive experience in the BtR sector, which has been honed through the design and delivery of a number of landmark London schemes, including Legal and General’s Blackhorse Mills, which was the first BtR development to achieve Home Quality Mark status from BRE Global, and Essential Living’s Union Wharf, the UK’s first BtR scheme specifically designed for families. Alongside other BtR developments in London, Assael also has Box Makers Yard for Legal and General currently under construction in Bristol, and last year they achieved planning consent for Old Brewery Gardens in Manchester for Prosperity Capital Partners.
The next phase of Finzels Reach and Aubrey Place are continuing this high-quality precedent by prioritising the operational performance of the building, the shared amenities for residents, and the wider community through the rejuvenation of the public realm.
The ground floor space of Aubrey Place, for example, will comprise a mix of community and commercial space, providing opportunities for events and initiatives, such as local art exhibitions, live music and theatre performances, as well as pop-up community events. Assael and Packaged Living worked closely with the town council on the design of this ground floor space, running public consultations and design workshops with local stakeholders to ensure it makes a substantial contribution to the wider community and town.
Assael has also worked to reimagine the public realm at the Bristol development through providing ground floor amenity space to open up the development to the public and drive greater footfall to the area by creating an exciting and vibrant city destination.
The landscape architecture of both schemes will also enhance the character of each site. Aubrey Place adds to the existing Milton Keynes infrastructure, particularly the renowned Milton Keynes grid. The main building’s entrance responds appropriately to the existing ‘Porte Cochere’ network that acts as markers for the pedestrian routes through the centre of Milton Keynes. Assael and the practice’s dedicated landscaping arm, Assael Exteriors, have utilised both the architecture and landscape design of Aubrey Place to weave the project into the wider masterplan of the town.
Similarly, at the next phase of Finzels Reach, Assael and The Bush Consultancy worked closely with landscape consultant Nicholas Pearson Associates to ensure it connects well to the surrounding area and compliments the heritage buildings nearby.
With the expected population of Milton Keynes expected to reach 400,000 by 2050, according to the MK Futures 2050 report, and Bristol’s to be 551,100 by 2041, according to the Bristol City Council, there is considerable need for more local housing and BtR opportunities. Both local councils are planning for a minimum of 26,500 new homes in Milton Keynes and 33,500 new homes in Bristol by 2036 to meet the growing demand.
Upon completion, these developments will be great additions to Assael’s exemplary design portfolio of Build to Rent projects.
Pete Ladhams, managing director at Assael Architecture, said:
“With both of these new Build to Rent schemes, our ambition was to set a benchmark for high-quality rental living outside of London in towns that are undergoing significant change. By combining landscaped public spaces, flexible ground floor offerings and community-led amenities, our designs have sought to create a thriving public realm and showcase the very best of what BtR has to offer throughout the UK.”
“As Build to Rent expands beyond London, it has become clear that it is no longer an emerging asset class in the UK but a proven, established sector within the country’s private rental sphere, making serious headway in answering local housing shortages. Bristol Fire Station and Aubrey Place are testaments to that change.”
Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, said:
“We have worked very hard over the past two years with our team to produce a set of high quality designs that delivers real benefits for Bristol – much-needed homes, including over 20% affordable which is in line with the Council’s policy and new leading-edge office space to support our economy and attract and retain the very best businesses. We’ll also be making a major investment into the area surrounding the site to make it much more attractive place for people to spend time and to connect it much better with its surroundings.”
Ed Ellerington, founder and managing director of Packaged Living, said:
“Aubrey Place marks an important step for the Build to Rent market in the UK and will provide Local Living at its best. Apartment buildings that are both built and managed by the developer have become increasingly popular in major cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester, but are yet to cement themselves in regional towns. Aubrey Place being granted planning permission shows confidence that Build to Rent is a genuine alternative within the private rented sector throughout the UK.”
“Milton Keynes is a fantastic town for development and investment, and with Packaged Living’s offer of hassle and stress-free renting, these apartments make a great addition to the housing stock in Milton Keynes.”