John Lewis unveils locations for hundreds of new rental homes
John Lewis Partnership has announced the first three locations where it proposes to build new rental homes.
The homes will form part of the UK’s growing built-to-rent property market, as the partnership seeks to raise standards in rental property, both through its role as developer and a commitment to manage the buildings itself.
The three proposed sites include building over Waitrose shops in Bromley and West Ealing in Greater London, as well as replacing a vacant John Lewis warehouse in Mill Lane, Reading.
Local people in Bromley and West Ealing will be invited to several rounds of public consultation over the coming months to discuss the principle of helping to deliver much-needed homes through the redevelopment of the Waitrose stores, which would also be significantly improved as part of the proposals.
Subject to the feedback received, the partnership intends to submit planning applications for Bromley and West Ealing next year. A period of public consultation for Mill Lane, Reading, will take place later this year.
The three locations are the first sites to be announced after the group confirmed its target to deliver 10,000 homes in the next 10 years – 5000 of these will come from schemes on the partnership’s own property portfolio. Moving into the rental homes market is part of the partnership’s long-term plan for 40% of profits to come from outside of retail by 2030.
Nina Bhatia, executive director for strategy and commercial development at the John Lewis Partnership, says: “Everything people love about our brand – quality, trust and service – we want to bring to the experience of renting a home with us.
Our role as developer and operator, as well as an already established local business and employer, signals our ambition to bring long-term value to each of these communities. Helping to create homes has always been at the heart of what we do, and we now have a unique opportunity to use our expertise and skills in new ways to deliver much-needed new housing.”
While some critics may say John Lewis should stick to what it knows with retail, Chris Harris, property director for the retailer said this was “shallow” thinking.
“As a partnership, yes we happen to be a retailer, but we are broader than a retailer,” Harris said.
The retailer had “some very strong credentials” as well as an existing property portfolio.
What’s more, John Lewis was a “top and very trusted brand,” at a time when many landlords are not very trusted, he added.
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