Moorfield to invest in Essex PBSA

Moorfield Group announces a development agreement for a new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) in Essex.

Colchester student accommodation development - Moorfield Group | PBSA News
Colchester student accommodation development.

UK-focused real estate fund manager – Moorfield Group – announces that it has entered into a development agreement with Melberry Developments, on behalf of Moorfield Real Estate Fund IV for a new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme – in the historic market town of Colchester, Essex. Shoosmiths and Bidwells advised Moorfield and Clyde & Co advised Melberry.

The scheme represents the first time that Moorfield has worked with Melberry Developments, who have a track record in delivering successful PBSA projects.

“We are delighted to be working with Moorfield to deliver this exciting first development in our planned pipeline together. Our alignment in quality and ESG objectives made agreeing the outcomes of the partnership clear from day one and we look forward to completing a fantastic asset.”

David Sarson, Managing Director, Melberry Developments

Designed by architects HNW and engineers Campbell Reith, Watkin Jones has been appointed as the contractor to deliver the scheme. The new development will deliver 282 cluster and studio rooms across nine floors. Amenities include social, study and gaming spaces as well as indoor and outdoor fitness suites. The scheme is expected to complete for the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

“Our teams are on site and work is already progressing well. We’ve built extensive expertise delivering investment quality homes with the best environmental and social outcomes, and we’re thrilled to be able to support the partners to deliver this highly sustainable accommodation.”

Gwyn Pritchard, Managing Director, Watkin Jones

Environmental initiatives will make the £40m GDV scheme 64% more energy efficient than a typical PBSA building. In line with Moorfield’s ambitious 2030 net zero commitment, the scheme is the company’s first ESG-linked development agreement, with the development team specifically incentivised to achieve a BREEAM “Excellent” rating.

Through both the design and construction stages and once operational, pioneering technology and engineering methods will be used to target reduced embodied and operational emissions, as well as using recycled materials. The building will include Air Source Heat Pump heating of the hot water system, with zero gas usage, and it will be smart system enabled as well as incorporating a greywater irrigation system and charging points for electric cars. 

“Sustainability sits at the core of Moorfield’s strategy, and this latest student development, working with partners who share our ethos, will be our most environmentally friendly scheme yet. It is well placed to bring together growing consumer and investor interest in the environment and sustainable development.

“The PBSA sector has been one of our conviction calls for over 20 years, and despite the short-term disruption caused by the pandemic, the longer-term demographic drivers remain hugely favourable. The University of Essex faces a critical supply / demand imbalance of high-quality student accommodation, which underpins our confidence in the future success of this scheme.”

Ross Netherway, Head of Origination, Moorfield Group

The development is located on Hawkins Road, a short walk from the main campus of the University of Essex. Residents at the scheme will benefit from the building’s strong transport connections, with nearby Hythe railway connecting to Colchester mainline station.