All posts by Marina Ranger

On International Women’s Day 2023, like every day, we recognise the fantastic females we have at Quartz. Every one in the industry, from project managers to groundworkers and all the vital roles in between, have the power to shape the built environment. We are dedicating this week to our women by sharing their profiles to highlight their inspiring industry experiences.


There has been a meteoric rise in demand for Higher Education in the United Kingdom, which has in turn created a rise in the development of student accommodation. Up until recently, universities provided their own student accommodation, however, these institutions are struggling to keep up with the increasingly high demand, and are therefore having to turn to the private sector.

In the UK alone, the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market saw a total investment of £7.2 billion, up 69% year – on year, and notably higher than the long-term average of £4.1billion over the previous five years (Knight Frank, 2023).

Below are some additional key facts regarding the Purpose Built Student Accommodation Market (Knight Frank, 2023):

•  263,000 forecast of additional full-time undergraduates between now and 2030

•  95,000 estimated number of new bed spaces in the planning pipeline

•  6% average rental growth in 2021/22

There are a number of reasons why PBSA has flourished, firstly, demand has escalated from 50,000 undergraduate students in 1970, to 350,000 in 2011 (Comaware, 2019). Universities now enter into nomination agreements with the PBSA providers, whereby they reserve a certain number of beds for their students guaranteeing a minimum rental income. This brings with it a level of financial burden on the universities, in turn creating an incentive for them to promote that accommodation, ensuring maximum bed occupancy, providing yet another advantage for PBSA providers. Secondly, PBSA has developed major financial backing from large, highly experienced capitalised parties, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund (Savills, 2019). Thirdly, when tuition fees were raised in 2012, families were more willing to pay for accommodation, as it did not seem so expensive compared to the high tuition fees. Lastly, one of the major reasons why PBSA has been so successful, is the security of rental income, with students paying steady rental payments from September through to July.

However with the possible risk of oversaturation in certain cities looming, do developers now need to work out, what the next step is in order to maintain this momentum? There have been ideas such as re-branding co-existing buildings and possibly investigating the concept of co-hybridisation models.

The PBSA market is forecast to have another strong year in 2023. In CBRE’s most recent PBSA report they wrote “Historically, recessions have resulted in additional demand for higher education. International student numbers will also continue to grow, building on a record volume in 2022.” They go on to explain this is due to the incredibly strong reputation the United Kingdom has for Higher Education. Demand will further be driven by the weakening of the pound, making studying in the UK more attractive.

CBRE have stated “because of increased taxation and further regulation, the supply of Houses in Multiple Occupation for students is falling, which will boost demand for purpose-built accommodation.” All of this, including record high occupancy levels means the fundamentals according to CBRE have “never been better” and the prospect of high total returns led by strong rental growth, will continue to drive the PBSA investment in 2023 (CBRE,2023).

  1. Knight Frank Student Property Report 2023

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  1. Comaware (2019) The Growth of the Purpose Built Student Accommodation Sector

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  1. Savills (2019) Global Student Housing Investment Global student housing investment

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  1. CBRE UK Real Estate Market Outlook 2023

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The proposal for the Great Northern Warehouse has received planning consent last week! It will be transformed into offices with the creation of 746 new Build to Rent homes nearby for our clients Trilogy Real Estate and Peterson Group.

This historic structure from the 1890s is located off Deansgate in the heart of Manchester. The Grade 2 star-listed building is a part of a larger six-acre site that also includes Deansgate Terrace. Both the warehouse and the terrace will be refurbished and redeveloped for a thriving and sustainable new mixed-use city neighbourhood.

The 746 homes will be spread across three buildings, including a 27-storey tower, a 34-storey one, and a 16-storey. In addition, the site’s underutilised public realm will be used to create a green oasis within the city, and a vibrant new pedestrianised street will be introduced to improve connections and legibility. Works also comprise delivering new residential, leisure and retail uses including a restaurant.

The BREEAM and WELL ratings are targeted as the commitment to sustainability permeates every aspect of the design and is demonstrated by the accreditations.

We are proud to be part of this project as Cost Consultants as it will play a key role in the regeneration of a special part of central Manchester.

Looking back through 2022!

Every year, we look back at the data from the previous year to have a better understanding of what might have changed and what this might mean for us as we make plans for the future. Our yearly roundup outlines the different types of projects we work on, the geographic distribution of our work across the UK, and the industries in which we operate.

In a short summary, we continued to support all our clients across many new and exciting projects. We have completed more projects than ever and are confident we can deliver successfully despite the economic challenges the industry is facing. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Quartz team and all our clients for their efforts and partnership in 2022, as well as their determination to go even further in 2023.

We are looking forward to another fantastic year!

Sustainable Workspaces is a CAT A and CAT B Refurbishment that will be the home to a full-service ecosystem, empowering sustainable start-ups to scale through community, investment, innovation, and workspace. They currently occupy a small portion of County Hall, a Grade II* listed building, and are relocating to nearly 40,000 sqft on level 5 of the building. A unique challenge for this project is that the new space has been unoccupied and derelict for nearly 40 years.

A major priority and foundational element for this client is the pursuit of sustainability through the reuse and refurbishment of existing materials, engagement with sustainable specialist suppliers and maintaining the ability to deconstruct (and reinstate in the future) as many items that are installed into the space as possible

The members and businesses that are part of Sustainable Ventures produce products and services that are all aimed at Climate Tech—many of which that will be integrated into the project design and align with the community’s sustainable brand and ethos.

We celebrated a successful, busy and hard working year at our Company Away Day in the Cotswolds last week!

The day began with updates from our Directors and Company Executive Groups on our year-to-date performance and plans for 2023 and beyond. To cap off an exciting day, there were games and, of course, a party! It was great to see everyone from the London and Manchester offices together.

We look to carry on with the same momentum, energy and passion into 2023 and are prepared for what 2023 has to bring!


Quartz kicked off the Football World Cup in style yesterday! ⚽

Everyone was treated to Iranian food (and cupcakes!) for lunch while enjoying watching a 6-2 win for England!

The Workspace of Tomorrow!


An icon, entrenched with history, the 200-year-old Heal’s Building on Tottenham Court Road will be transformed through an extensive refurbishment programme, including repurposing the creation of new vibrant destination entrance, café, restaurant and ancillary spaces.

Repurposed as ‘The Manufactory’, this builds upon the sites historic use as a ‘furniture manufacturer’ to the ‘manufacture of ideas’. Once completed, this iconic building will provide new high quality workspace and collaboration zones, creating a destination to this already prestigious area.

Since 1840, the site has undergone significant development and has a collection of 9 connected blocks of buildings. Our clients KKR and General Projects acquired the building and the surrounding estate in 2021 from Columbia Threadneedle for £112m. We are thrilled to be part of remastering this incredible landmark as Project Managers, Cost Consultants and Employer’s Agents.

Proving that sustainable design can be applied to Grade II* buildings, and BREEAM Very Good and an EPC B will be the minimum standards applied, with aspirations for ‘Excellent’ and ‘A’ with a wider Net Zero strategy set in place for the occupied spaces.

Works on the building have already begun, with an initial 35,000 sq ft of office space completed in July ’22, with the relocation of Heals underway. A further 62,000 sq ft of offices are set to complete in the Q3 2023.

Since founding Costa in 1971 at Old Paradise Street, the site will now be transformed into the next generation of commercial office space, pushing the boundaries of ESG and Sustainable Design. Considering embodied carbon and operational energy throughout the design, a Cross Laminated Timber and Glulam structure will be utilised with terracotta façade, seeking to meet and better the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge for embodied carbon and operational energy.

With goals to set the new ‘norm’ for low-carbon office workspace, whilst supporting the health and well-being of its future occupants, standards incorporated including BREEAM ‘Excellent,’ WELL Core ‘Gold, and WIRED ‘Gold’.

In this instance, happiness grows from trees.

Earlier this year we won two tandem skydives at a charity auction for School of Hard Knocks Charity. Scott Hepworth and Adib Jazireh were our two lucky winners of the tickets and experienced the adrenaline-fuelled tandem parachute jump with The Red Devils last week.

Here’s what they said about it:

"Thank you to Quartz for supporting me through the recent personal tragedy... I felt like throwing myself out   of a plane, which, Quartz enabled me to do so was the best way to get on with my life...! I had a lot of fun and was good to get some adrenaline going through my body again!"

- Scott Hepworth
“It’s a massive adrenaline rush as you can imagine. It's an experience that I'll never forget. It’s like nothing else on earth. I loved it!”

- Adib Jazireh