(Published in 2021)

Record year for University Student Applications

The 2021/22 Academic year has seen records broken with nearly half of the population of 18 year olds applying for places at Universities across the UK. With numbers up by more than 10% from the year before, the total number of applicants applying through UCAS across all settings hit a new high of 682,000.

With the increased numbers comes greater stress on the current supply of student accommodation available and therefore highlighting student housing shortages and the perfect buying signal for investors looking to purchase into student accommodation projects.

Why invest in Lancaster?

With a growing population of approximately 130,000 people, Lancaster is located in the North West of England and set within easy reach of some of Britain’s most breath-taking landscapes, including the Lake District, Forest of Bowland, and the Yorkshire Dales, Lancaster is truly an enviable city to live in.

Lancaster is a globally connected university city located just 52 miles north west of Manchester and provides easy access to the M6 for routes to Scotland, London, and Southern England.

Lancaster is also on the West Coast Mainline, providing fast, direct connections to all of the UK’s major cities including Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, and London.

Travel to local cities such as Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester are all served by a regular regional service. And, with Manchester International Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport both approximately 70 minutes away, residents benefit from a choice of over 90 destinations globally.

Home to two prominent Universities

Lancaster is home to two very well regarded higher educational institutions, being Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria. The larger of the two is Lancaster University which is considered to be one of the best Universities in the UK and ranked 11th in both the Times Good University Guide 2022 and the Complete University Guide 2022 League Tables. The University is also ranked number 3 in the best universities in the North West of England as well as ranking 51st best university in Europe and 122nd in the Word University ranking for 2022 and in the top 1% of universities in worldwide.

Market Fundamentals

With student number increasing year on year, the shortage in the number of student beds available in the City is constantly under stress and simply cannot keep up with the demand.

Rising Student Numbers

Lancaster University’s student population has been on the rise since 2008/09 and continues to do so at every year. To highlights its steady and sustainable growth, most recently in the 2016/17 academic year its student numbers totalled 13,686 which then increased to 14,299 in 2017/18, rising again to 14,752 in 2018/19, then yet still further to 15,725 in 2019/20 and climbing again to 16,595 in 2021/21. It is highly expected that this increase will be noted again in the 2021/22 academic year when published next year.

With the City’s second University, The University of Cumbria’s student numbers totalling 7,945 the city is home to an extremely buoyant combined student population of 24,540.

Current supply

According to the Cushman & Wakefield Student Accommodation Tracker, the total number of  purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) bed spaces in Lancaster is 7,559. Lancaster University currently is able to provide their students with 6,584 bed spaces on campus. With the University of Cumbria supplying a total of 451 bed spaces to its students the remaining 524 beds are supplied by the private accommodation providers.

Total bed shortage

The shortfall of beds required to house all 24,540 students in a staggering 16,981 student beds that both universities and the city is struggling to provide.

Now is the time to buy

With a clear undersupply in the number of student beds available in Lancaster, with both  Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria not able to satisfy the existing demand from their growing student numbers, there is no better time to invest in a student accommodation project.

With the market fundaments indicating the number of students going to university set to continue, clearly any student accommodation project close to the university campus will be vital to support this growth. However, with the scarcity of projects being granted planning permission or coming to the market it is fair to say that buying into a student accommodation project in Lancaster will certainly prove a good investment.

To add to which, any student project housing a host of facilities such as a games room, cinema room, gym, break out rooms and study pods will be very sought after by the student population as a whole.

Opportunity to Invest

One such project which satisfies the criteria is Silk Mill Suites, which is a private student accommodation project located just 10 minuets walk from Lancaster University’s campus. The development is a wonderful marriage of the new and old as it is a conversion of a Victorian Mill and contains features like exposed brickwork alongside modern fixtures and fittings.

Located in Lancaster’s green belt it is highly unlikely that there will be another project like it again. Silk Mill Suites is not only attractive to students because of its close proximity to the university being the closest private accommodation building to the University but also because of the high specifications in the rooms and its facilities that are available for all students to enjoy.

Being truly unique, Silk Mill Suites provides its student tenants with a thoroughly modern living experience in an environment filled with character. The apartments being offered are larger and built to a higher specification than those currently on the market, and the student fortunate enough to live at Silk Mill Suites, will also benefit from on-site amenities including a gymnasium, games room, cinema, bike storage, study pods and a ground floor museum showcasing the buildings old mill machinery.

When you combine all of the benefits of the development and couple it with an annual assured return of 7% NET for 5 years, it is hard to say that a better opportunity to own a student property in Lancaster can be found to better Silk Mill Suites. Without doubt this is the perfect definition of an outstanding student accommodation investment opportunity.