Forbes Place is Scotland’s first institutionally funded Build to Rent (BTR) development, comprising 292 apartments over four blocks and 16 three-storey townhouses.
Located approximately two miles south east of Aberdeen International Airport and the headquarters of BP and Schlumberger, the development occupies a 5.5-acre site within the Stoneywood Estate – a strategic 90-acre site acquired by Dandara in 2010. Originally master-planned for 576 residential units with ancillary commercial space, including a 464 sqm Marks & Spencer Food Hall and Café and 170sqm Co-Operative food store, the Stoneywood site received planning in 2012.
In 2014 Dandara were already in discussion with Aberdeen City Council to convert the 5.5-acre Forbes Place site from residential housing to a high quality BTR apartment scheme. At the same time, LaSalle Investment Management were actively seeking opportunities in Scotland having identified the residential BTR sector as an investment target and the two companies began exploratory discussions shortly thereafter.
Achieving consent for the new proposed scheme was not without its challenges. The development included a mix of 2-bed-2-bath units, 1-bed units and studios – which formed a vital component of the accommodation by providing Aberdeen’s highly mobile workforce with a more flexible alternative to hotel accommodation. However, at 30sqm the units were slightly smaller than average and with BTR having no unique planning status in Scotland there was also no reference point at the time of the application. Dandara and Aberdeen City Council’s Planning Department worked closely together by focusing on the dedicated BTR design, high level specification and proven track record in the delivery of 2,500 similar units to achieve the consent and work commenced in Q2, 2015.
Unlike a traditional build-to-sell development, where construction takes place on a block-by-block basis subject to sales take up, forward funding by LaSalle Investment Management enabled Dandara to place packages for the key development components up front. The dedicated BTR design and specification also allowed for leading edge construction methods such as precast concrete panels with external brick elevations cast in-situ, windows fitted prior to arrival on site and prefabricated bathroom pods, thereby reducing preliminary costs.
A significant percentage of apartments are single aspect, however, every unit features extensive full-height glazing and has a useable balcony or terrace. Apartments feature high quality, durable kitchens and appliances and all two-bedroom units also have two bathrooms to cater specifically for ‘sharers’. At least one underground car parking space and superfast broadband of 100Mb are also provided.
The development in its entirety is operated for LaSalle Investment Management by Dandara Living. Working from a dedicated on-site office which is open seven days a week, the Dandara Living team provide a comprehensive lettings and property management service.
Following the industry standard design principles established in the mature ‘multi-family’ market in the USA, this pioneering project delivered a state of the art BTR development in just 23 months, leading the way for investment in Scotland’s fast-growing BTR sector.
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