BlackRock adds to UK student housing portfolio

The real estate investment arm of the New York-based asset manager has agreed to forward fund the development of a student housing project in Leeds. 

BlackRock Real Estate has agreed to forward fund UK property firm Ashcourt Group’s development of a 239-bed student accommodation scheme in Leeds. 

Leeds, in West Yorkshire, is one of the largest student towns in the UK, with a student population of more than 51,000 taken from the city’s two main colleges, Leeds University and Leeds Beckett University.

At press time, BlackRock had not yet disclosed further details of the forward funding arrangement.

The site, located in Cavendish Street, is less than a mile south of the two university’s campuses. Ground work on the site has already begun and is due for completion in August 2017, ready for the 2017/18 academic year.

The scheme will be aimed at the higher end of the student accommodation market and will include cinema space, a music room, a gym, a common room, cycle storage, parking, a laundry room and a terraced outdoor courtyard.

BlackRock has been targeting alternative assets such as student housing since the creation of a new vehicle, UK Long Lease Property Fund (LLPF), in July 2013.

Since then the firm has picked up a string of student properties across the UK, in cities such as Birmingham, Plymouth, Exeter, Coventry and most recently Sheffield in March, and accruing a portfolio with more than 2,000 beds.

The asset manager did not disclose the price of the Leeds-based property or whether the deal was made on behalf of the UK LLPF.

Thomas Mueller, portfolio manager within BlackRock’s European real estate department, confirmed that the firm would be concluding more deals in the student sector in the near future.

“Student housing is a current focus sector for BlackRock Real Estate in the UK. It is in line with our UK value-add strategy to invest in shorter duration business plans with defensive, even counter-cyclical features,” he said.

“We look forward to announcing similar transactions in the months to come as we continue to execute on this attractive aggregation strategy,” he added.



BlackRock Real Estate currently has assets under management of $21 billion in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.