Urbanest starts construction at London PBSA scheme

Construction starts at Urbanest’s PBSA scheme which will become Europe’s largest Passivhaus PBSA development.

Urbanest’s scheme in London set to become Europe's largest | PBSA News
Urbanest’s scheme in London set to become Europe's largest.

Central London student accommodation provider Urbanest has closed and completed on all financing and construction agreements to deliver a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme in London.  

Designed by Apt Architects, the development is situated next to Billingsgate Market. It will deliver 1,672 student beds and 80 residential apartments across three towers for University College London (UCL) students. Amenities include a gym, yoga studio, cinema, study spaces and games rooms – all situated within an elevated skybridge.  

The three new buildings will range between 28 and 48 storeys, with the ground floor to feature a drive-thru McDonalds and 40,000 sq ft office and affordable incubator workspace. Midgard, part of JRL Group, has been appointed as the main contractor. The company brings strong experience of residential towers from, amongst others, One Thames City and Consort Place.  

Set to complete in 2026, Urbanest is developing the scheme in line with Passivhaus criteria. Features such as air source heat pumps and vertical planting – set within sky gardens rising up the towers, -are some of the planned features that will help the scheme work towards its sector-leading sustainability credentials.   

The London development with vertical planting within sky gardens rising up the tower | PBSA News
The London development with vertical planting within sky gardens rising up the tower.

Urbanest is targeting BREEAM Outstanding, with the student accommodation development promoting the comfort and wellbeing of residents – with whole house ventilation and air conditioning to heat and cool individual student rooms.  

“The scheme reflects our commitment to working with exceptional designers to deliver high quality architecture and truly world-class environmental performance. With a growing student population in London, we strive to create high quality accommodation which provides students with more choice. We look forward to working with our construction and funding partners over the next three years and then to welcoming our first intake of UCL students.”

Johnny Manns, Chief Investment Officer, Urbanest

Urbanest’s scheme supports UCL’s accommodation strategy – providing a campus of well-located beds with excellent facilities, close to first rate transport links and strategically located between all three of UCL’s main campuses. It builds on Urbanest’s existing long-term nominations agreement with UCL at its King’s Cross building.  

The Passivhaus PBSA development with an elevated skybridge | PBSA News
The Passivhaus PBSA development with an elevated skybridge.

Funding partners Lloyds Bank – who provided a fully underwritten solution – led the senior lender group for this transaction, bringing in Wells Fargo and Bank ABC as co-lenders at closing to a £250m five-year development facility. An Aviva Investors’ Real Estate Long Income mandate provided ground rent finance on the site for 75 years.  

“We’re delighted to support Urbanest in enabling this state-of-the-art project which targets sector-leading sustainability credentials. The scheme will provide vital high-quality, affordable and mid-market student accommodation, helping to reduce the acute pressures on housing in London.”

Sam Shah, Director and Alternative Residential Lead, Lloyds Bank

In addition to Urbanest Canary Wharf, Urbanest Battersea is also under construction and being built to Passivhaus standards. Between them the schemes will deliver around 2,500 student beds. This is in addition to the 4,000 beds across Urbanest’s central London portfolio of developments which have already been built out.