Linkcity finalises partners for £70 million mixed-use development in Canterbury

Linkcity, the property development company of Bouygues UK, has exchanged contracts with Canterbury City Council, Harrison Street and the Hyde Group to bring forward a major new mixed-use development on the site of a former coach park and Serco depot in the Kingsmead area of Canterbury.

The Riverside is a new mixed-use quarter for Canterbury that will include over 50,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and restaurant space, 491 student residences and 189 new homes, all of which will be affordable.

The 8.4-acre development will be anchored by a five-screen cinema, for which a lease has been signed with independent film specialists Curzon cinemas. Alongside the cinema there will be a range of restaurants and bars, which will be set around a new public square providing seating and space for public events, with parking below ground. JLL acted as Linkcity’s commercial development and funding advisor and has also been appointed as leasing agent for the commercial elements of the scheme which will be owned and managed by Canterbury City Council.

The scheme’s student residences, serving those studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Kent and the University for the Creative Arts, will be owned under a 80/20 equity split between Harrison Street, one of the largest owners of student housing in the US and Europe, and Uliving, Linkcity’s dedicated student accommodation brand, who will manage the student residences upon completion. Debt financing has been provided by Lloyds for this element of the scheme.

Linkcity will manage the development of the retail and leisure space and student accommodation elements, which have a value of £70 million. The 189 new affordable homes will be delivered in partnership with The Hyde Group. 40% of these will be affordable rented and the remainder shared-ownership properties. The scheme’s overall gross development value is £115 million.

Bouygues UK has been appointed as the main contractor for the scheme, which will be delivered using modern methods of construction. The Riverside student accommodation blocks will be built using modular construction, which will enable Bouygues UK to deliver higher levels of quality for end users and save time on site when compared to traditional methods of construction, minimising the disruption to local residents and stakeholders.

With all agreements now in place, construction will begin imminently. The new student residences and commercial elements will complete in Autumn 2021, with residents moving into the new homes in 2022.

Linkcity’s Managing Director, Nicolas Guérin, said: “With 7.8 million tourist visits each year, three universities, 36,000 students and a shopping population of 227,000 who put the city in the top 2% of UK centres in terms of total retail spend, Canterbury is an attractive and thriving destination. The Riverside development will act as an extension to the city’s already established leisure quarter in Canterbury, offering an attractive daytime and evening offer, as well as purpose-built student accommodation and much-needed affordable homes. Significant work has gone on behind the scenes to get to this stage; we look forward to continuing to work with the council and, with all our partners on board, are excited to see this scheme come to life, regenerating a brownfield site into a real asset for the local community.”

Leader of Canterbury City Council, Cllr Rob Thomas, said: “The Riverside will create scores of jobs, deliver almost 200 new homes and enhance the city’s entertainment offer, at the same time as transforming a derelict area in the city centre. This project will also draw people along Northgate, boosting the businesses there, improving pedestrian and cycle links into the city from the east, creating new areas of publicly accessible open space and improving landscaping along, and access to, the River Stour.”

Rob Mathias, Senior Managing Director and Head of International Business for Harrison Street, said: “This development is consistent with Harrison Street’s broader European student housing strategy and highlights the significant need for high-quality PBSA assets throughout the UK. Canterbury is a top-tier UK university city, home to more than 30,000 full-time students across three leading universities. However, less than a third of these students have access to university housing or PBSA options. At the same time, both Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent are expanding their enrolment bases. We are pleased to continue our partnership with Linkcity (Uliving) and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Mike Finch, Land & Planning Director (Kent & South) at the Hyde Group, said: “This is a fantastic location for the new homes we urgently need in the south east and with so many amenities in such close proximity, I have no doubt that they will be extremely popular. We are looking forward to getting started and creating a new community here which can thrive in beautiful surroundings.”

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