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Student Accommodation Sees a Surge in Development Activity

The latest student accommodation report from Cushman & Wakefield reveals a notable uplift in development activity in the student accommodation market.  According to Cushman & Wakefield, an estimated 6,180 purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) bed spaces are currently under construction in Dublin.

Commenting on the market, Emma Reardon, Senior Analyst, Trading Assets, Cushman & Wakefield: “The PBSA sector has enjoyed considerable development in recent years, in a market characterised by a substantial shortage of supply. Despite the recent upsurge in development, there are still significant opportunities for development and investment in this sector, as investors and operators seek to scale up on existing stock. There is also a strong appetite from new entrants, both international and domestic, aiming to get a foothold in the market.”

In addition to the schemes already on site, the report reveals that a further 4,440 bed spaces have planning permission granted, with another 3,385 bed spaces in pre-planning.

Of the schemes currently under construction, approximately 2,850 bed spaces are due to open in 2018. The largest of these is Point Campus, Dublin 1 which is being developed by BlackRock. This scheme is spanned over two blocks, “The Tramshed” and “The Woodworks” and will be operated by Host. Other schemes of note include GSA’s Ardcairn House, Dublin 7, which includes 571 bed spaces and will be operated by Uninest. Elsewhere, Hines’s Beckett House, Dublin 1, with 393 bed spaces will be operated by Aparto.

Cushman & Wakefield estimates that there are approximately 11,340 bed spaces currently in the Dublin PBSA market. This compares to a student population in Dublin of approximately 75,900. However, 50.6% of this student population originate from Dublin and therefore may continue to live at home during their studies. Excluding these, results in a 4:1 student to bed ratio. This ratio reflects the depth of the supply demand imbalance, which is evident in the market today.

Of the existing stock, public Higher Education Institute (HEI) providers account for 64%, with private PBSA providers accounting for the remaining 36%. However, this is set to change as an analysis of development pipeline reveals that private PBSA providers are a growing element of the market, accounting for 60% of bed spaces.

Private PBSA providers leading this include GSA, Hines, Cairn Homes and BlackRock. Operators of new schemes include existing players such as Uninest, Aparto and Swuite with new entrants including Host, Fresh and Liv Dublin.

Development activity, although concentrated in, is not limited to Dublin. As of mid-2018, 603 bed spaces are under construction in Cork, with a further 429 bed spaces under construction in Galway. In the development pipeline, there are approximately 2,904 bed spaces with planning granted and 1,950 bed spaces in the pre- planning stages. These are located in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Kildare.


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