Unite Students invests in Paddington digs



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tudent accommodation firm Unite has said it plans to invest around £150 million in creating new digs in Paddington.

The FTSE 250 property developer showed it had longer-term confidence in student numbers post-Covid by acquiring a site from Travis Perkins where it wants to build a 800-bed development.

Subject to planning approval, it is expected the site would be ready for students to move in from 2023.

Richard Smith, chief executive of Unite Students, said: “This is a rare opportunity to acquire a zone 1 central London site in an excellent location, which will help to meet the growing accommodation needs of our London-based university partners.”

He added: “We remain confident in the growth outlook for London over the next decade, reflecting the global reputation of its universities and a positive outlook for growth in UK and international student numbers.”

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Unite Students added that it has let 88% of bed spaces across its portfolio for the 2020/21 academic year.  

The company said that given current market uncertainty, it is too early to commit to the reinstatement of dividends. It will review this decision early in the new year.

In June the firm secured £300 million from investors and said it planned to use the proceeds of the share placing to buy and develop new sites, including in London and regional cities in the UK.