European real estate fund manager Rockspring and US multifamily specialist Atlas Residential have joined forces to invest for the first time in the UK private-rented sector (PRS).

The joint venture partners have bought a 145,544sqft residential development site in Southampton from the town’s council. Rockspring is investing on behalf of separate account client.

Hampshire & Regional has begun to develop 211 apartments. The project is expected to cost £36m (€50m) and will be delivered in several phases over the next two years, with the first phase completing in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Rockspring manages €7.9bn of capital invested in European commercial real estate, while Atlas Residential owns approximately $1.3bn (€1.13bn) worth of multifamily properties in the US.

Richard Bains, partner and head of UK at Rockspring, said: “We are combining our fund management expertise and in-depth, 30-plus-year knowledge of the UK market with Atlas’ exceptional experience and understanding of the operational elements of the private-rental sector business.

“The supply and demand metrics of the private-rented sector are a compelling rationale for any investor, as operational, bespoke and purpose built assets are increasingly rare and difficult to acquire.”