26 Jan 2022
PIC invests in £130 million cornerstone project for UK’S largest urban regeneration project
Pension Insurance Corporation plc (“PIC”), a specialist insurer of defined benefit pension funds, has completed a £130 million investment in Wirral Waters One (“WWO”), the cornerstone residential scheme for the broader development of Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters, a 500-acre brownfield site and former dockland.
Regeneration specialists Peel L&P has launched a 30-year strategy which will see the site become the largest regeneration project in the UK, creating up to 20,000 permanent jobs. Wirral Waters is supported by central Government as a key part of its levelling up strategy.
Working in close partnership with Peel L&P and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (“WMBC”), PIC is the sole investor for the development of a Build-to-Rent scheme, comprising 500 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with an affordable housing component of 100 homes. Rents on the affordable units will be a maximum of 80% of open market value, delivering significant social impact.
The project will transform the brownfield site into a sustainable location for local and international businesses, creating more than 20,000 permanent jobs for the Liverpool City region, as well as offering a breadth of new housing opportunities. Wirral Waters was designated Enterprise Zone status in 2011 and has been supported by Homes England.
The Build-to-Rent development will use a long-term, regeneration lease structure, providing funding for WMBC which would not have been available from traditional structures, whilst generating the secure long-term cashflows which allow PIC to match its pension payments decades into the future.
WWO brings together an ideal partnership of a long-term investor, a highly experienced developer, and a forward-thinking local authority to generate considerable social value, including:
- One in five apartments to be designated as affordable housing units, with rents set at a maximum of 80% of open market value.
- All buildings across the Wirral Waters regeneration project are targeting BREEAM Excellent, including WWO, as well as significant bio-diversity improvements with the planting of more than 1,600 trees so far.
- WWO will use a range of energy efficiency and low carbon technologies to reduce carbon emissions, including solar power systems, air source heat pumps, and electric vehicle charging points.
- The Peel L&P delivery team will continue to engage with the Wirral Met College's construction students for site visits, seminars, work experience and apprenticeships, enabling the students to benefit from experience on the project as we seek to create the construction workforce of the future.
- Sustainable Urban Drainage to manage surface water from the site into the Docks through the provision of rain gardens, climate tolerant planting and tree pits designed to accommodate a 1 in 100-year storm.
James Whitaker, Executive Director of Development at Peel L&P, said: “This project is a great example of partnership working that will not only deliver this development but will act as a model for other schemes in the future. The combination of an experienced regeneration company, a long-term investor, and a progressive local authority will deliver real value for all our collective stakeholders.”
Hayley Rees, Head of Investment Strategy at Pension Insurance Corporation, said: “Our investment in WWO is another step in the development of our purposeful investment strategy and ultimately is a model for how long-term investors can play a key role in the levelling up agenda. We need secure long-term cashflows to back the pensions of our 300,000 policyholders and so seek to invest in assets with a high degree of social value, because what makes sense for society helps us achieve our purpose over decades.”
Councillor Tony Jones, Chair of Wirral Council's Economy, Regeneration & Development Committee, said: “Already this year with this announcement we are seeing another major step forward for Wirral's Left Bank with the delivery of this latest significant development.
“The council has worked closely with both Peel L&P and PIC to bring forward this project which will be delivering jobs and affordable housing for people in Wirral.
“With Peel L&P taking the occupational and delivery risks, this Build to Rent development will be able to provide a long term revenue income stream to the local authority which could support wider service delivery and future investment. It is also another key moment in the continuing wider regeneration in the borough, tying in with the work well underway in Birkenhead to drive forward the town’s renaissance and showing the increasing confidence of investors in the plans for Wirral’s future.”