In Review: Edinburgh and Glasgow Two Day Study Tour

On 21st and 22nd February 2023, UKAA members gathered in Scotland for a two-day study tour of Edinburgh and Glasgow. While previous study tours have taken place in cities from Manchester and Liverpool to San Diego, this was our first tour of these bustling Scottish cities.

With Get Fully Furnished as Headline sponsor, supported by Shoosmiths & MacRoberts as Lunch sponsors and Cortland Consult as Dinner & Drinks sponsor, the study tour enabled members to gain insights into this growing region, bringing detailed market overviews of the two cities to life. The two-day visit encompassed a look at BTR developments in and around both cities, as well as plenty of opportunities for networking.

Understanding Edinburgh’s BTR Landscape

The study tour began in Edinburgh, with a quick coffee and chance to network, before a welcome from UKAA’s Scottish Hub Chair, Gillian McLees of Rettie & Co. Gillian set the scene for the day, sharing insights into the Edinburgh BTR market. While the city has just five operational BTR communities so far, comprising 807 homes between them, a further nine developments (4,600+ units) are in the pipeline, making it the fourth largest pipeline outside London.

The first visit of the day was to Western Harbour – a 238-unit Build to Rent (BTR) scheme from Rettie & Co in an impressive waterside setting in the Leith area of the city. Western Harbour has been a notable success, with 99% occupancy, an average tenancy length of 39 months and an average rent of £700-800 per month. 

Second on the tour of Edinburgh’s BTR landscape were the luxury apartments at the Kingsford Residence on McDonald Road. Located in an old, converted high school building, the 72 apartments include one-bedroom homes with an average rent of £1,450 pcm and two-bedroom homes with an average rent of £2,400 pcm. Mixing Edwardian-era character and sleek modernity, many of the apartments deliver panoramic views across Edinburgh, while amenities include a club room, roof terrace, private gym and garden. There’s also a versatile area known as The Bridge, which provides a workspace by day and an entertainment space by night, enjoyed by the working professionals and students who live there (some 20% of residents are students).

A reviving lunch, courtesy of Shoosmiths, left members inspired to see more of the city’s BTR schemes during the afternoon, so it was off to The McEwan by MODA at the heart of Fountainbridge. Already 80% occupied, the scheme includes 483 homes, with an average tenancy duration of one year and average rents of £2,800 for a two-bedroom apartment and £3,000 for a three-bed. On-site amenities include a gym and studio, cinema room, co-working space, shared lounges, rooftop terraces and public squares, along with two private dining rooms with panoramic views over the city and Edinburgh Castle.

Members were then whisked off to Glasgow for dinner at Sarti, sponsored by Cortland Consult, where they discussed learnings from the day and shared further insights into the BTR industry in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

BTR in Glasgow

The second day of the study tour began with a visit to L&G’s Solasta Development Managed by Urbanbubble, which is known for being the fastest leased development in the UK, having achieved 98% occupancy in just 12 weeks. Prices for the 324 units on the banks of the Clyde, which come with a gym, lounge, private dining room and more, range from £995 for a studio up to £2,000 or more for a three-bedroom home.

From there, members embarked on a tour of several Glasgow developments, including updates on the BTR pipeline and developments by Iain Murray of Cortland Consult. They took in Moda’s Holland Park, construction of which began in spring 2021, along with PLATFORM_’s £100m Broomielaw scheme. Also on the study tour agenda were visits to Legal & General’s £300m Candleriggs Square (scheduled for completion in summer 2024) and Moda’s planned Lancefield Quay site (granted outline planning permission in December 2022).

Lunch in Glasgow was courtesy of Mac Roberts and included an engaging speech by Dr John Boyle, Director of Research & Strategy at Rettie & Co. Glasgow’s fledgling BTR market has two open schemes so far, with a total of 360 apartments. An impressive 13 further communities are in the pipeline, totalling 5,325 additional homes for this thriving city.

 

Conclusions

The study tour provided valuable insights into these two rapidly growing BTR markets, encompassing a variety of providers’ approaches to building communities with social value at their heart. On-the-ground experts shared detailed context, from national policy to local influences, providing members with a vast array of information to support, influence and underpin their work.

For more information on attending future Study Tours or indeed, organising an event in your region, please get in touch today or email info@ukaa.org.uk.