Essential Living wins planning permission for UK’s first office-to-resi private rental development

Essential Living received full planning permission last night for its redevelopment of the Berkshire House office block in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The 14-storey scheme is the first office-to-residential private rented sector (PRS) conversion to win approval.

The plans for 68 PRS homes, voted in by a 10 to one majority, received a detailed consent with conditions around detail design and materials.

The existing 1960s tower will be transformed via a striking external design of a stainless steel mesh-like frame, wrapped around a glass and steel building in an egg-shaped expression.

Approved by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the development will become a centerpiece of Maidenhead’s town centre, providing spacious studio apartments along with larger one and two bedroom units.

The scheme will be one of the first UK blocks designed for renting from the ground up. Built to investment grade quality, it will feature a host of on-site amenities, as part of Essential Living’s ambition to transform renting into a lifestyle choice, rather than a stop-gap to ownership.

Basing its model on the hugely successful US multi family housing sector, the Berkshire House site will include a ‘club-lounge’, top floor terrace, a top-range gym, two office/meeting rooms and second floor landscaped communal amenity area. There will also be a 24-hour concierge reflecting Essential Living’s ambition to create a service-led culture in rental.

Construction will begin early in 2014.

Essential Living is the UK’s first developer and operator of rented homes and has a pipeline of over 1,500 properties across London and the South East.

Backed by $200m of equity from M3 Capital Partners, who manage U.S. institutional funds, Essential Living plans to design, build and manage a total of 5,000 rented homes across London and the South East.

The deal joins a portfolio that includes schemes in Swiss Cottage, Bethnal Green, Archway and Elephant and Castle.

Martin Bellinger, chief operating officer at Essential Living, said:

“We’re delighted to have received approval for our plans to re-develop such an iconic yet underutilised building in Maidenhead. Alongside the improved connectivity that Crossrail will bring, we intend for the development to act as a figurehead for the regeneration of the town centre, encouraging more people to live centrally and revitalizing the local community.”