Social Value
Dominus Real Estate to give Migration Museum permanent home in new Square Mile student development
Dominus Real Estate
Length 6 min read
  • Dominus Real Estate
  • Dominus Real Estate
  • Dominus Real Estate
  • Museum supported by Joanna Lumley, Riz Ahmed and Naomie Harris set to get permanent home thanks to property company founded by Ugandan refugee Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia
  • Dominvs Group has rebranded as Dominus Real Estate as it aims to become London’s largest developer of purpose-built student accommodation
  • Entrepreneur family says supporting communities across the UK critical to thriving business

15 February 2023 – THE company aiming to become the Capital’s largest developer of student accommodation has agreed plans to create a permanent home for London’s Migration Museum in the heart of its newest project.

Real-estate company Dominus, founded by Ugandan refugee Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia, is planning to install the museum in the first three floors of its newest multi million-pound student accommodation development in the Square Mile near The Tower of London.

Mr Ahluwalia, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, founded Dominus Real Estate in 2011 having fled Idi Amin’s brutal regime as a child to come to the UK.

The Migration Museum, which counts actors Riz Ahmed, Naomie Harris, and Joanna Lumley among its high-profile supporters, is currently housed in a shopping centre in Lewisham and has been searching for a permanent home for 10 years.

Plans have now been submitted which will see the museum move to Dominus’ 65 Crutched Friars development on the eastern edge of the City of London, helping to secure its long-term future as the national Migration Museum for Britain.

The move will cost up to an estimated £15 million. As well as agreeing to host the museum in the prime development, Dominus Real Estate has guaranteed to underwrite the museum’s first three years’ operating costs, as well as proposing a donation of £500,000 to pay for a team of museum staff to lead the fundraising drive.

In addition, the partnership with Dominus Real Estate affords the museum the considerable benefit of moving into a purpose-built space that it can co-design and is properly fit for its requirements, including an eye-catching triple-height entrance and ground floor exhibition spaces visible from the street as well as more intimate spaces suitable for smaller events and education workshops.

The project is being spearheaded by the company’s principal directors, brothers Husnell, Preet, and Jay Ahluwalia. Jay Ahluwalia said helping to create a permanent home for the museum was “hugely important” to his family.

He said: “We feel it is really important to do what we can to help shift the perception of migrants in the UK. Sadly there is so much negativity and focus on the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ – so it’s hugely important to show that other side of migration: when these people arrive, they do great things and we need to celebrate that.

“We are extremely proud to be able to support the Migration Museum to help tell the stories of the people who have made Britain great.”

Charles Gurassa, Chair of Migration Museum, called Dominus’ support a “once in a generation opportunity”.

“It is difficult to overstate what all of this means for the Migration Museum. Dominus’ support is, quite simply, critical to our ability to deliver a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art Migration Museum.  We could not do so without it.

“We believe that a permanent and significant Migration Museum is an important and long overdue addition to Britain’s cultural landscape and there is no better place than the heart of the City of London, Britain’s gateway to the world for thousands of years.”

It is hoped the museum, if approved, will go a long way towards supporting the City of London Corporation in their ambition to become the World’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem as well as ensuring it is an attractive place to invest, work, live, learn and visit.

The 769-bedroom development at 65 Crutched Friars is hoped to be completed in 2026/27 if planning permission is granted, focusing on achieving the highest levels of sustainability and affordability.

The move into student accommodation is part of Dominus’ ambitious “recession-proof” 10-year growth plan, with the museum’s relocation integral to their “community-focussed, philanthropic approach instilled in them through the family values underpinning the company.

From the award-winning Gaia’s Garden in the City of London, to dedicated “warm spaces” for homeless people in shopping centre developments, working with charity partners to improve cultural opportunities for residents, or providing grants for trainee doctors, Dominus’ mission is to ensure its projects help support strong, vibrant, sustainable communities.

Dominus’ social value commitments are in the blood, it became one of the first property companies to have a dedicated social value team that ensure developments knit into the fabric of communities and add value at every juncture.

It also has plans to establish a standalone Community Interest Company to help manage and run operations such as apprenticeships and charitable endeavours to ensure they are sustainable in the long term and receive the same kind of professional focus as the company’s commercial spaces.

Jay Ahluwalia said: “Dominus Real Estate is more than just property – we want to create legacies and build wealth and wellbeing in communities, not because it is profitable for us, but because it’s the right thing to do.

“When we started out back in 2011, the goal was to build a real estate business that wasn’t only scalable and fast-growing, but was philanthropic at heart, going above and beyond to improve people’s lives.

“Today, everything we do for the business as brothers is driven by this idea, and the desire to create places and spaces that make a positive contribution to cities and communities across the UK.”

With a proven track record in the City, with the recently opened Lost Property, Curio collection by Hilton and its latest PBSA under construction at 61-65 Holborn Viaduct, Dominus Real Estate is one of the fastest growing real estate platforms in the UK, rapidly expanding its property portfolio with diverse investments, from industry-leading hotels  to award-winning residential properties, regeneration projects and mixed-use schemes and hospitality.

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