Blog | Build to Rent | Letting & Management

How we have helped transform The Keel, Liverpool into an award winning BTR development & thriving community

We are absolutely thrilled that The Keel, Liverpool won the Best Build to Rent Development (North) Award at the recent Love to Rent Awards.

Since taking over the management of the development in 2020, we have worked hard with our client to:

  • Improve the scheme’s ESG credentials
  • Respond to changing consumer demands
  • Create a cohesive community
  • Improve resident retention rate

Love to Rent Winner

The building

The Keel is a 240-apartment BTR development situated on Liverpool’s waterfront, overlooking the River Mersey. Originally an office building, it was converted in 2015 for residential use through permitted development rights. Facilities include a residents-only gym and lounge, co-working spaces, concierge and 24-hour security, as well as a host of residents’ events and activities.

The Keel ranks among the UK’s top performing BTR developments, boasting outstanding ratings on verified resident reviews platform HomeViews, with tenants rating their overall rental experience at the development at 4.99 out of 5.

Improving the scheme’s ESG credentials

The building has been fitted with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, providing a sustainable energy source to power the communal areas, which has allowed ALM to significantly reduce overall energy expenditure and running costs for the building (£175,000 since installation).

ALM switched from halogen to LED bulbs, replacing 1,200 bulbs and fittings, reducing the overall electricity consumption by circa 112,500 kWh per annum (a 51.2% reduction in energy usage across the building, eliminating 95.6 kg of carbon per year and resulting in £58,500 worth of savings to date).

In addition, ALM has been working on transitioning away from gas boilers to more sustainable energy sources and water source heat pump (WSHP), taking advantage of the scheme’s proximity to Queen’s Dock. The £2m WSHP, constructed with the help of Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and Liverpool City Council, will be the largest open-loop WSHP in the country and is due to complete in July 2023. Upon completion, it will provide heating and hot water for all of the residents living at The Keel in addition to cooling the dock – the only example of such a technology used to power a residential building of this scale in the UK, according to the Low Carbon Alliance. In addition to promoting the use of sustainable energy, the WSHP will result in significant savings for The Keel’s residents of approximately £333.33 each per annum[1].

The Keel has achieved Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) status each year since 2020 and achieved a ‘good’ BREEAM rating in 2021.

Responding to changing consumer demands

In response to changing consumer demands fuelled by the pandemic, a large renovation project was undertaken at The Keel in 2022, creating a spacious flexible working area, bookable private meeting rooms and a residents’ lounge, all of which have been well received by the building’s residents.

In addition to the new amenities, residents can now access a 250Mpbs internet connection as standard, with the option to upgrade to either 500Mbps or 1Gbps[2]. Broadband is also offered across all amenity zones, recognising the rise of remote working and the desire of its residents to work together, albeit separately.

To ensure the interiors of the apartments and communal areas remain in keeping with the latest design trends, ALM is currently carrying out a comprehensive furniture replacement programme, with the outgoing furniture being donated to charity, recycled and in some cases, resold. To date, around 800 items have been donated to regional charities, including Emmaus Preston, a homelessness charity, with further donations planned for Mustard Tree and other charities in the North West.

Creating a cohesive community

ALM has been proactively engaging with local businesses and residents to ensure The Keel becomes an integral part of the wider community. In order to encourage its residents to shop locally and support small businesses, it regularly informs them of any incentives or special deals run by the businesses in the local area, including 92 Degrees Coffee, Luban, Yogasita, The Crystal Den, and Pawfect Paws via a dedicated residents’ app.

The app is also used to promote charitable activities in the local area, with residents regularly surveyed about their preferred types of charitable initiatives to maximise engagement. Most recently, ALM and The Keel’s residents have engaged with a variety of local charities, such as White Rose Recycled Fashion (a dedicated collection point has been installed to encourage donations, with 2,730kg of clothing collected since January 2022, generating circa £15k in revenues for the charity) and North Liverpool Foodbank.

Figures that speak for themselves

ALM’s customer-focused approach and understanding of the importance of high-quality amenities and community activities have led to an impressive resident retention rate. When ALM took over the management of the building in 2020, the churn rate at The Keel was at 64%, which has since fallen to an average of 36% (across 12 months), with 16% churn in April 2023 and a record-row rate of 11% in September 2022.

A thriving community has been created at The Keel and the building sets a standard for BTR developments in Liverpool and beyond.

[1] Total savings of £80,000 per annum or £333.33 each per annum assuming all the apartments were the same size

[2] The average internet speed in the UK in 2022 was 85.5 Mbps, according to Virgin Media

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