Packaged Living’s Edwina Coward on Liverpool’s transformation and the growing demand for BTR

Insightful article by our Development Manager, Edwina Coward, on the growth of Liverpool – including our recent multi family #BTR acquisition alongside partners Affinius Capital.

Whether you’re a fan of Eurovision or not, it was difficult to observe the crowds pouring into the Eurovision village in Liverpool and not feel a sense of joy that the contest was being held in the North West.

Aside from the expected spectacle that Eurovision brings, it is evident that the extensive investment along the waterfront in recent years greatly contributed to Liverpool having the infrastructure to host the event. It proves that the city continues to thrive as a destination, attracting significant investment and residents year on year, including built-to-rent (BTR) customers.

Liverpool was built upon the docks and dominated global trade in the early 19th century. The first dock was built in 1715, The Lyver Pool, which rapidly extended to comprise a dock system stretching 7.5 miles. Isolated from the river tides, it was the most advanced port system in the world and enabled ship movements within the dock system 24 hours a day. Most of the smaller docks closed in the mid-to-late 20th century, with some subsequently infilled. Despite the redevelopment meaning UNESCO stripped the city of its World Heritage Site status due to “irreversible loss”, the identity of Liverpool stills remains prominent along the waterfront with the likes of the Royal Albert Dock and the Three Graces.

This has been accelerated through major investment across the city, including the transformation at Mann Island and, most significantly, Liverpool Waters – a 30-year vision to completely transform the city’s northern docks, creating a sustainable world-class, high-quality, mixed-use waterfront and bringing life back into the historic docklands. It is seen as a seamless extension of both Liverpool’s commercial business district (CBD) and its iconic world heritage waterfront.

The £5bn investment is already evident through the transformation of Princes Dock and the ongoing changes to Central Docks, which will enhance the city’s infrastructure with the construction of the new Isle of Man ferry terminal and enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes. The city centre and the northern docks will be better connected as a result, including key routes towards the new Everton FC stadium.

As the investment draws more people into the city centre, the demand for BTR properties continues to increase. The private rented sector has increased 20% in the last decade alone. This is largely a result of the national shortfall of housing and the increasing difficulty to secure an affordable mortgage, however, changing lifestyle choices is also contributing to the growth in demand for homes to rent, as captured in Strutt & Parker Housing Futures Survey 2022.

BTR enables people to live in high-quality apartments in city centre locations, which have high energy efficiency and are close to transport links. It provides residents comfort that they are committing to a fixed cost without having to worry about maintenance and is now a must have for any city looking to retain and attract a young professional workforce.

Regional BTR development volumes are now double that found in London, with both Manchester and Liverpool in the top 10 local authorities with the most BTR activity. Liverpool has more than 1,000 units under construction and in excess of 2,000 units in planning. Those recently completed include Moda’s The Lexington, which provides around 325 apartments and has delivered more than £76m worth of social value, as well as Plaza 1821, Copper House, The Cargo Building and The Keel.

Just a stone’s throw away from The Lexington, Packaged Living is redeveloping 122 Old Hall Street, as part of a joint venture with US partner Affinius Capital. Acquired in October 2022, this presents the opportunity to take a vacant, derelict, brownfield site and introduce a landmark development that addresses its poignant location on the junction of Leeds Street and Great Howard Street, rejuvenating the local area and breathing life into the edge of Liverpool’s CBD.

The scheme will provide 400 high-quality one-, two- and three-bed apartments as well as an extensive amenity provision. Focused on high energy efficiency and sustainability, the building will include extensive cycle provision and electric vehicle car-sharing facilities, and will encourage pedestrian movement through enhanced visitor experience between the city centre and the ongoing regeneration around the docks to the north.

The exciting next phase of rental living has come to Liverpool with, as Bucks Fizz famously once sang, “making your mind up” on which fantastic new scheme to live in being the only real question that customers are being asked.