02 Sep 20
With a number of co-living developers eager to acquire more sites, the model currently looks resilient. Co-living may form part of a wider ‘local living’ trend which will see town and neighbourhood centres benefitting from the Government’s push to rejuvenate high streets.
At the start of the pandemic, many in the property and development industry had fears about the future of the country’s office, retail, leisure and hotel sectors once we were told to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. Those involved in the residential sector also might have wondered what the next few months would bring for those in co-living buildings. On the face of it, sharing amenities and being in close contact to others is not a good match for enforced social-distancing.
Conversely, it would in fact appear that co-living buildings have flourished during this time of crisis. From our work in the sector, and speaking to professionals who are delivering and managing schemes, we would attribute this to four factors:
- Co-living buildings are an intensively and well managed model – this means that operators can maintain rigorous levels of hygiene and also control who comes in and out of the building;
- They are flexible by nature – both in terms of rental agreements, and the ability to adapt spaces within buildings e.g. to provide more working from home space, an onsite shop or room service;
- They can provide a socially distant community – utilising technology such as member apps to create online events and connect to others;
- Other forms of housing are increasingly unsuitable – co-living providers are benefitting from those experiencing ‘bad landlords’, unfit HMO’s and incompatible housemates.
Looking to the future, where will this leave co-living and how will it evolve?
With a number of co-living developers eager to acquire more sites, the model currently looks resilient. Co-living may form part of a wider ‘local living’ trend which will see town and neighbourhood centres benefitting from the Government’s push to rejuvenate high streets. As many people continue to find a better work-life balance, ground floors of co-living buildings may provide publicly accessible, mixed-use, work spaces, retail and leisure offers.
While some Local Planning Authorities and Councillors have yet to embrace the concept; Manchester City Council has just last week pushed back on two applications totalling more than 3,000 bed spaces; we consider that the need for centrally located co-living developments in major cities won’t disappear either. To counter their urban location, the co-living operators of the future may look to enhance external amenity space through more use of roof tops, private balconies and public realm, as it is evident that access to open space has played a vital role in many people’s experience of lockdown.
However the trend develops, it seems that those who thought Covid-19 could spell the end of co-living may well be proved wrong.