Loft Lines forward funded with L&G and Clanmil Housing Association
Watkin Jones, the UK’s leading developer and manager of residential for rent, in partnership with Lacuna Developments, announces that it has exchanged contracts with L&G and Clanmil Housing Association to forward fund the new urban residential community, Loft Lines, at Titanic Quarter in Belfast.
The agreed fundings amounting to c.£155 million of a wider c.£175 million development and represents the first BTR scheme in Northern Ireland, alongside the first mixed tenure affordable housing scheme, and will create 778 new waterfront homes. Titanic Quarter was previously home to world leaders in innovative engineering and was a hub for the renowned shipbuilding company, Harland and Wolff. Transforming the current brownfield site into a vibrant new community, Loft Lines will create 778 homes; comprising 627 Build to Rent (‘BTR’) units and 151 affordable homes.
The Loft Lines will be a brand-new urban riverside community built on Queen’s Island, in the centre of Titanic Quarter, Belfast. The development will help to further catalyse the regeneration of Queens Island, alongside helping to transform Belfast city centre living, bringing attractive residential homes to the area for the first time and a significant boost to the local economy.
On completion, the development will appeal to a range of people including families and young professionals, who will benefit from a range of housing sizes, from studios to three bed apartments, offering a best-in-class resident experience. Loft Lines will include lounges, sports and recreational spaces, gyms, flexible working space, private dining spaces, games rooms, cinema rooms and children’s play areas. The BTR scheme is surrounded by an urban woodland with parks and walkways and is helping to support the Group’s strong ESG credentials, incorporating air source heat pumps and other energy saving capabilities. The development design has a ‘resident first’ approach; prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over the use of cars, supporting the city’s aim to reduce its carbon footprint.
A short walk into Belfast city centre, the development is within easy distance of the fantastic amenities and leisure Belfast has to offer as well as supporting the CBD and wider commercial areas. It has good access to railway links to Dublin and Belfast City airport which is less than three miles away.
Alex Pease, Chief Investment Officer, Watkin Jones, said: “We are delighted to have secured institutional investment from both L&G and Clanmil Housing Association for this landmark scheme in Belfast’s iconic Titanic Quarter. This is further evidence of the attractive investment and operational fundamentals of both BTR as a sector and Belfast as a city and a good sign of capital markets re-opening.
“Watkin Jones has a strong track record of developing large regeneration sites and we are delighted to bring the first BTR scheme to the city of Belfast. Titanic Quarter will develop an area that is steeped in rich history, transforming this brownfield site into a thriving place to live and acting as a catalyst for wider regeneration. We are very pleased to continue investing to support Belfast’s ambitions. The development is being brought to fruition by a true partnership approach between all stakeholders and funders and we are grateful for the genuine collaboration we have experienced with our partners. The scheme offers excellent employment opportunities with growth across many industries in the city. Belfast offers a wide range of shops, bars, and restaurants along with a thriving arts and music scene, making it a truly fantastic place to both work and live.”
Mike Powell, Head of BTR Transactions, LGIM Real Assets said: “We are proud to be making the largest ever private sector investment into housing in Northern Ireland. A long-term investment that will allow for the continued regeneration of the Titanic Quarter and crucially support the growing housing demands of the city.”
Anthony Best, Managing Director, Lacuna Developments, said: “This is another significant step forward for city centre living in Belfast. For Lacuna to be involved in the first purpose-built student accommodation scheme in 2015 and now the first mixed tenure housing scheme in the city centre is very pleasing and shows our company’s commitment to Belfast our home city. Loft Lines will deliver Build to Rent, affordable and social housing as well large amounts of public realm and major green travel measures.”
“The ambitions for Belfast city centre are huge but to be involved in Loft Lines which will support the growth planned under the Belfast Agenda is fantastic. The partnership approach by all stakeholders, Belfast City Council and L&G has been great to be part of and required a huge amount of work by all to reach this stage. We look forward starting the project with Grahams very shortly in what will be a three-year project and will be a game changing regeneration scheme for Titanic Quarter and the wider city.”
Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour, said: “We are pleased to see the continued positive progress of the ‘Loft Lines’ development working in partnership with Watkin Jones and Legal and General, supporting our ambition to develop an iconic waterfront for the City. The addition of Build to Rent and social/affordable residential with supporting commercial use and leisure activities will create an urban community on the water with the highest quality outdoor space and indoor accommodation.”
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James Eyre, Commercial Director, Titanic Quarter Ltd, said: “It is very exciting to see Loft Lines progress to construction phase, delivering Belfast’s first major build to rent, social and affordable residential project in Titanic Quarter. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lacuna, Watkin Jones, Legal and General and Clanmil, playing our part in bringing the project to fruition. The Loft Lines is a super component of the continuing mixed-use regeneration of Titanic Quarter and supports Belfast’s growth ambitions set out in the Belfast Agenda.”