Unite Students, a UK-based owner, manager, and developer of student accommodation, has announced a joint venture (JV) framework agreement with Newcastle University in England, UK. 

The JV will focus on the development of 2,000 new student beds on the university’s Castle Leazes site in Newcastle.  

In this JV, Newcastle University will own a 49% stake, contributing the Castle Leazes site on a 150-year lease, while Unite’s equity commitment is expected to be around £70m ($88.11m) for a 51% stake, with additional funding from debt secured against the JV. 

The formation of new JV is currently contingent upon planning approval, with a submission expected by the end of the first quarter of this year, potentially allowing the JV to be formed before the year’s end. 

Total development costs for this work are estimated at approximately £250m, with main construction anticipated to begin in early 2025.  

Delivery of the new beds is expected in 2027 and 2028. 

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The project is further expected to yield returns in line with developments in other regional cities, reflecting the fees Unite Students will receive as the development and asset manager to the JV.  

In order to support the university’s accommodation needs during the development phase, Unite Students has also entered into a four-year nomination agreement for 1,600 beds in its other properties across the city. 

Unite Students CEO Joe Lister said: “The partnership will provide further support to Newcastle University in meeting their accommodation needs at a time of real housing shortage, so that they can focus on providing a world-class experience for their students.” 

The Castle Leazes site, built in 1969, currently provides approximately 1,250 beds.  

Newcastle University, which is one of the founding members of the Russell Group of Universities, has committed to closing the existing accommodation and commencing demolition work this summer.