Building Study: Alto private rental scheme, London, by Flanagan Lawrence

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On a vast regeneration site in Wembley, Quintain is building what it hopes will be the UK’s largest build-to-rent scheme

In recent years the private rented sector (PRS) has become something of a Holy Grail. Large investors are piling into the sector because of the safe and predictable returns. Legal & General has big ambitions for PRS, investing and building with a pipeline of 3,000 homes, while private equity investor Sigma Capital is working with Keepmoat, Countryside Properties and Galliford Try on a £1bn investment into PRS. The government estimates that more than 80,000 PRS homes are either completed or planned, with the sector likely to grow to £70bn in value by 2022. 

Essentially, the PRS is a professional version of the private rental market, which has proved so popular with small landlords. Residents can enter into short- or long-term tenancies with a professionally run organisation and enjoy purpose-built homes that come with communal facilities and on-site servicing and maintenance. Most people can see the value in diversifying the traditionally static UK housing market in an effort to help address the current crisis, so there has been much discussion about the revolutionary structural impact such schemes could have.  

So far, nobody has seemed quite sure how to deliver PRS housing at the kind of scale that could make a meaningful difference to the supply and composition of the residential sector, but a new scheme in the shadow of Wembley stadium aims to do just that.

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