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For Hammerson BTR Is A Bridge To Its Future

A bridge to the future? Exterior of the Highcross shopping centre, Leicester

Hammerson’s journey into UK build to rent has begun.

The company has announced plans to bring forward a build-to-rent residential scheme in part of the former Debenhams store at its 1.2M SF Highcross shopping centre in Leicester. Hammerson is working with private-rented-sector specialist Packaged Living to develop the plans ahead of submission of a planning application early next year.

The move comes after Next abandoned plans to use part of the 106K SF Debenhams store for a new beauty hall concept.

The BTR scheme will provide more than 300 new homes and improved public realm for the city alongside bespoke resident amenities including coworking space and a private dining room. 

The retail frontage onto the mall at Highcross will be retained and the space transformed into smaller and more flexible units for retail and leisure brands. 

Packaged Living is a bespoke build-to-rent operator and developer formed in 2018 with a pipeline of over 2,000 homes. It is backed by Fiera Real Estate.

The BTR proposals help neutralise excess retail floorspace at Highcross, but it also opens new prospects for the future as it develops its City Quarters concept, including recently approved plans for the 10-acre Bishopsgate Goodsyard development to see 500 homes and 1.4M SF of workspace.

They will also be significant for Birmingham’s Martineau Galleries scheme. Hammerson’s plans for the Birmingham site have evolved from 1.2M SF of retail to 1,300 new homes and 1.4 SF of workspace on the 7.5-acre city-centre site.

Hammerson has already plunged into BTR development in Dublin with 210 apartments at the Dundrum shopping centre in the Dublin suburbs. The development won planning approval in December 2019.