Students’ desire to live a life of luxury sparks foreign property investment boom
Students looking for somewhere to live which is a far cry from the traditional dingy digs are helping attract major new property investment in Norwich.
Development firms from as far away as the Far East are looking to Norwich as a place to build high-end student accommodation more akin to expensive hotels with luxury add-ons such as gyms, laundry rooms, roof gardens and cinemas.
Developers see the potential of Norwich, with its colleges and university as a highly attractive location and providing student homes brings a guaranteed rental income.
Samuel Le Good, a director at abbotFox estate agency, is selling a block of flats at Wales Square, St Faith's Lane, which was occupied by tenants who had to leave the property last year because of the state of electrics and heating. The complex of 47 apartments is undergoing refurbishment and for sale for £5.5m. It has already attracted a lot of interest, both from developers in East Anglia and further afield, who want to convert it into a luxury student complex.
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Mr Le Good said: "We've sold more than 300 apartments in Norwich over the last year-14 months. Sentinel House, on Surrey Street, the former Aviva building, had 199 units and they are all sold. That was bought by an out of area developer. Skipper House, the former industrial tribunal, Ber Street, took about 14 months to sell and that was a London buyer and at Aldwych House, Theatre Street, we are seeing a record pound per square foot and are about half way through selling all the apartments. That was bought by a Singapore hotel group of investors.
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"Students now want luxury, many come themselves from expensive homes and they want the accommodation which comes with a coffee shop, a roof garden and cinema."
Pablo Fanque House on All Saints Green broke boundaries in 2017 and this year Crown Place, above the old BHS, did the same offering glamorous en suite rooms with a private gym. The latest is Benedicts Gate, off St Benedicts Street, another new high spec student complex.
Nick Dunn. partner in the commercial department at Brown & Co in Norwich, which worked on the planning for Benedicts Gate, said: "It used to be that as a student you had a terraced house in a dodgy area of town but now they come with the kind of service which is more like a boutique hotel. It's good for the city as it brings new life in."