Property experts gathered at the Bristol office of real estate specialist Colliers International to discuss the city’s potential for Build to Rent development.

The event, organised by Christopher Dawson, director of Development Consulting and Agency, featured insights into the growing sector of Build to Rent, whereby institutions invest in new homes to rent to private tenants.

He told the invited audience: “There is growing interest nationally in Build to Rent, so this briefing is hopefully timely.

“It is widely accepted there has been under-provision in housing in the UK, and also that the population is expected to grow. Build to Rent is seen as having a role to play in relieving the pressure on housing delivery.”

Christopher Dawson was followed by speakers Toby Nicholson, director of Collier’s National Capital Markets who specialises in Build to Rent schemes; Guy Butler, director of national Build to Rent developer Glenbrook; and Jon Bryant from Ocean Homes, the largest independent residential estate agency chain in Bristol.

Toby Nicholson said an active approach to investment in Build to Rent could help to boost housing supply across all tenures, and had benefits for local authorities, local communities, developers and investors.

He said: “For local authorities, the main plus of Build to Rent is housing delivery, employment, place-making and the stimulus that it brings to an area.

“The community benefits from increased housing supply across all tenures, but also from economic and social benefits. Build to Rent also de-risks schemes for developers, and offers investors consistently good net returns.”

An insight into the benefits of Build to Rent to developers and to tenants was given by Glenbrook director Guy Butler, who spoke about schemes in which he has been involved, largely in Liverpool.

“The number of households in rented accommodation has increased by 77 per cent in the last decade. Our experience has been that tenants are willing to spend on good services and management,” he said.

A local perspective on the suitability of Bristol for Build to Rent was given by Jon Bryant of Ocean Homes, which has a collaboration agreement with Colliers to work together to bring forward brownfield residential opportunities in the city centre, including Build to Rent opportunities.

He pointed out that Bristol is a prime rental market that represented a low risk opportunity for investors, stating that, in his view, Bristol is the best place outside London to invest in property.

“Bristol has one of the highest populations in the UK aged between 20 and 40, which is a prime rental market. In addition, Bristol has the lowest unemployment rate in country and has seen an 11 per cent population increase, compared to a national average of eight per cent,” he said.