The John Lewis Partnership has announced a £500m, multi-decade project to build 1,000 new homes to rent in the South-East.
John Lewis will develop and manage the projects, which will include affordable housing and have a focus on sustainability, in line with the firm’s 2035 net-zero pledge.
The move is aimed at providing a stable income for the business, which saw a 5% fall in sales at Waitrose supermarkets in the six months ending 30 July 2022.
Under the plan, Waitrose shops in Bromley and West Ealing in Greater London, subject to planning permission, will be redeveloped to provide new homes and improved stores. In Reading, a vacant John Lewis warehouse will be redeveloped.
The sites were chosen because of their central location and good transport links. The project is the first tranche of 10,000 new homes John Lewis plans to build over the next decade.
Shortfall in rental properties
The firm believes the build-to-rent sector has a key role to play in addressing the shortfall in homes – in London alone there is a shortfall of 75,000 rental properties.
The project is being financed by UK-based investment manager abrdn.
Nina Bhatia (pictured), Executive Director for Strategy and Commercial Development at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Our partnership with abrdn is a major milestone in our ambition to create much-needed quality residential housing in our communities.
“Our residents can expect homes furnished by John Lewis with first-rate service and facilities. The move underlines our commitment to build on the strength of our brands to diversify beyond retail into areas where trust really matters.”
Neil Slater, Head of Real Assets, abrdn, said: “The critical lack of quality rental accommodation in the UK needs to be addressed, so we are delighted to partner with the John Lewis Partnership to provide the required institutional investment.
“The ambitions and responsible ethos of our brands both strongly align, and our partnership should offer investors long-term returns and give residents confidence in a top-quality living experience.”