LONDON: Gatehouse Bank plc and Sigma Capital Group have started construction of 927 rental homes in the greater Manchester and Liverpool areas in the United Kingdom.
Gatehouse is a wholesale syariah-compliant investment bank based in London, while Sigma Capital is an Alternative Investment Market-listed finance, residential property and urban regeneration specialist with offices in Edinburgh, Manchester and London.
“The importance of the [private rental] sector is becoming increasingly critical as the supply and demand imbalance of quality in UK housing stock continues. The joint venture will play its part in addressing the imbalance to deliver affordable, sustainable, efficient homes in scale and in areas where they are most needed,” said Gatehouse real estate investment vice-president Scott Nicol in a statement recently.
The project has a development cost of £110 million (RM600 million) and comprises 927 double-storey linked houses and apartments for the private rental sector. The expected total built-up is 720,000 sq ft across 14 sites with an average rental value of £650 per month.
Gatehouse noted that the units are not for sale and cater for locals, expatriates and students. The first batch of homes is scheduled for completion and lease by the second quarter of 2015. The land was acquired from the city councils in Manchester and Liverpool at a discount.
“Further to the [British] prime minister’s positive statement on Gatehouse and Sigma’s intention to develop much needed housing stock for the private rental sector, I welcome the announcement that development work has begun in Liverpool and Greater Manchester. This is a sure sign of investment flowing into cities in the north of England, which contributes to the local economy, creates jobs and delivers more homes for hardworking people,” said UK Minister for Universities, Science and Cities Greg Clark.
“We are delighted to see Gatehouse playing a strong role in developing the real economy in such a crucial sector,” said Gatehouse Malaysia chief representative Richard Thomas.
Thomas said that relations between leaders in the Malaysian Islamic finance sector and the UK had played an important role in promoting initiatives within the UK. Initiatives such as the World Islamic Economic Forum in London had led directly to the first UK government sukuk. He noted that future cooperation between Malaysia and the UK can bring more success in developing real benefits for mutual economic development.
Gatehouse Malaysia’s first local recruit Sharifah Bakar Ali told The Edge Financial Daily that the tie-up is to develop the Islamic real estate capital market in the UK in the years to come. This offers the potential for the issuance or creation of syariah-compliant Islamic real estate investment trusts (REITs) or sukuk. It also showcases the value of syariah-compliant investments in the UK and supports the UK government’s effort in developing the country into a Western hub for Islamic finance especially, after the issuance of its maiden sukuk recently.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 2, 2015.
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