U+I plans 1,000 new build to rent homes for Kent and Surrey


Planning applications submitted to develop 1,000 mid-market build to rent residential units as part of regeneration projects in Ashford, Maidstone, Swanley and Woking.

U+I, the mixed-use property regeneration specialist, has submitted planning applications to develop four mixed-use regeneration projects that will deliver over 1,000 new rental homes worth more than £250m within the London City Region in Ashford, Maidstone, Swanley and Woking.

The projects aim to combine affordability with desirability, enhancing local communities by providing high quality accommodation, retail and leisure facilities and designed to draw inspiration from the character and history of each local area. The size of the UK’s rental market continues to grow, recently valued at £1.29 trillion, and is expected to account for 22% of the UK’s housing market by 2025 as the demand for a high quality, value for money rental offer increases. U+I’s new schemes will provide a curated and bespoke offer tailored to the needs of ‘Generation Rent’.

Richard Upton, Deputy CEO of U+I, said: “We are making good progress at each of these sites, all located within the London City Region “Huburbs” and within an hour’s commute of central London. The plans submitted prioritise the development of high quality, mid-market homes with easy access to the centre of London in locations where housing demand continues to grow. We are committed to delivering vibrant, mixed-use places that take their inspiration from their local areas and meet the needs of each community. We will create affordable, desirable places people can truly enjoy – not just a place to sleep or commute from, but a place to live and thrive.

“We have selected these sites very carefully.  Each one is close to a train station, beautiful parks and located in quality towns where consistent rental and capital growth will be evident and each will remain relatively affordable for the wider population. That is important to U+I and helps mitigate risks in uncertain times. We will deliver carefully designed places with great amenities and details, fostering a real and sustainable sense of belonging for all who will live in them.”

“Home ownership is no longer the be-all and end-all – increasingly, a new generation is choosing to rent and they want high quality and affordable accommodation to match their lifestyle and aspirations. This generation has high expectations - meeting these expectations and delivering great new homes for rent is a key part of our offer as a business. These 1,000 homes represent the first chapter in our unfolding rental story.”

Richard Upton, Deputy CEO of U+I

Four projects in planning


In Ashford, U+I is bringing forward a development on a six acre site, owned by the Homes and Communities Agency, located opposite Ashford International train station. The proposed development would consist of approximately 200 residential units, a 120-bed hotel, an Aldi food store, a new brewery and visitor centre for local wine and beer maker, Chapel Down and flexible retail and commercial space. The scheme has the potential to create over 165 new jobs and add over £60 million to the local economy over the next 10 years. Designed by RIBA award-winning Kent architect and interior designer, Guy Hollaway Architects, construction of the project could start in early 2017 pending a positive planning outcome. 


The site in Maidstone comprises two phases with planning consent already obtained to develop 192 residential units in the first phase. An application will shortly be submitted for the second phase of the project to develop 300 residential units, the majority of which would be delivered as private rental homes. Designed by Guy Hollaway Architects, the development will transform a derelict but gateway site into a new residential community with a 17-storey landmark building at its heart. The scheme sits within a beautiful, mature parkland setting and the landscape and architecture has been designed to respond to and enhance this setting with the residential buildings featuring rooftop allotments and beautifully landscaped communal public areas.


In Swanley, an application was submitted in July to extend and enhance Swanley Square shopping centre, one of U+I’s key investment assets, with the aim of revitalising the town centre, improving the retail offer and attracting more investment and leisure spend. This vibrant extension to the shopping centre would include 340 residential units, 46,780 sq. ft. of new commercial and retail, restaurants, shops, new office space and a new car park. The Swanley town centre project is designed by HLM Architects, who have delivered many successful projects with the U+I team. 


In Woking, U+I has submitted a planning application to redevelop Elizabeth House, a vacant 1980’s office building into 241 new homes, 5,700 sq. ft. of offices, small retail and start up units, restaurants and cafes alongside beautifully landscaped communal areas. The rental block has been designed around a central communal area to encourage interaction amongst tenants and an open and friendly sense of place. The redevelopment will also provide much needed affordable workspace for Woking’s start up and entrepreneurial community as well as active and vibrant ground floor retail spaces breathing new life into this prominent site, located just a few hundred metres from Woking train station. Architects are RTKL - a renowned build to rent specialist.