Second Edinburgh development sold to student accommodation specialist

PROPERTY development company S Harrison and provider of residential for rent homes, Watkin Jones, have agreed a deal for a second major development site in Edinburgh.

The site, on the corner of Westfield Road and Westfield Avenue, is close to Murrayfield Stadium. It has planning permission for a student development that will offer 394 bedrooms, including 48 studios, and a range of cluster apartments, each with between six and nine bedrooms.

The development will incorporate landscaped grounds and communal space including breakout study rooms, a games area, gym, cinema and laundry, as well as cycle parking for every resident. There will also be a suite that local community organisations can use.

S Harrison said the brownfield site is currently unused, having previously been occupied by Sterling Furniture before the company expanded to new premises at Fort Kinnaird Retail Park.

This latest deal follows S Harrison selling a site on Gorgie Road to Watkin Jones in December. S Harrison secured planning permission on the site last year for a student accommodation project comprising 248 bedrooms in two buildings made up of 35 studio rooms and a mixture of cluster apartments. Watkin Jones expects the Gorgie Road development to open in 2022.

David Clancy, development director at S Harrison, said, “Completing two significant sales to a leading name in the student accommodation sector in two months is a big coup and reinforces the strength of Edinburgh’s student property market. Ultimately, both these schemes will transform two disused brownfield sites through a substantial investment that will bring hundreds of economically active new residents into West Edinburgh. This will be welcome news for local businesses and will also help to free up housing stock, currently occupied by students, in the surrounding area for local people.”

Since 1999, Watkin Jones has delivered more than 43,000 student beds across 130 purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sites. The company is currently working on several Edinburgh projects, including a 216-bed student scheme in Dundee Street.

Alex Pease, chief investment officer at Watkin Jones, added, “This site is another exciting acquisition for Watkin Jones in Edinburgh, where the success of the city means demand for high quality, purpose-built student accommodation outstrips supply. Westfield Road is a popular area, with excellent cycling, bus and tram links. Additional student accommodation will provide a real boost to the local economy. Construction work has already started, and we expect to welcome the first students in autumn 2022.

“Our significant investment in Edinburgh in recent months demonstrates our confidence in the city and further enhances our pipeline of student and build-to-rent sites throughout the UK, further strengthening our position as the UK’s leading provider of residential for rent homes.”