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Pinsent Masons has won the University of Essex as a new client on a greenfield property development in Colchester.
The firm will advise on the entire lifecycle of a student accommodation project, including funding, planning, environment and construction work.
Pinsents’ role includes assisting on the project structure, which could see the university partnering with the private sector and lenders to create new income streams.
Projects partner Victoria Goddard said: “Everybody seems to be looking at this market at the moment. [In contrast with elements of the commercial property market] there still seems to be a decent return on student residences.”
The Essex development is part of a £250m capital investment project, which includes a first-stage construction of 750 units plus related infrastructure on The Meadows site outside the main campus.
The project could see the university release funds from the sale of existing buildings.
“Part of the new site could be sold off at a future stage for housing; hopefully that means we’ll have a long-term role,” said Goddard.
Pinsents has experience on similar projects. The student accommodation team has advised Leeds Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent and City universities.