Bisnow's single-family rental market event – our report

Chapman Taylor Director Michael Swiszczowski and Architect Catalina Ionita spoke at Bisnow's single-family rental market conference in London.

Catalina chaired a panel discussion on 'Understanding the single-family rental market asset class', joined by Michael, Lesley Roberts from Allsop, Samantha Kempe from IMMO Capital and Chris Procter from Casa by Moda.

In addition to Michael and Catalina, Chapman Taylor’s team at the event included Director Jonathan Harris, Associate Directors Richard Daw, Simon Pitt and Gerard Ellis, and Architect Alexander Esfahani. Our stand was busy throughout the day, with visitors talking to the team about our experience and capabilities in, and insights into, the single-family rental market and the Build to Rent (BtR) sector more generally.

Growth in the Suburban Build-to-Rent (SBtR) market

Catalina kicked things off with statistics from Savills noting that two-thirds of the population of England and Wales (c.16.3 million households) and 53% of the private rented sector (c.2.3 million households) live in a suburban setting. However, the institutionally backed BtR sector is 90% focused on dense urban centres, leaving the greatest share of the market as a significant growth opportunity. The Suburban Build-to-Rent format could therefore become a greater catalyst to the residential rental market in the UK than its urban counterpart has been.

Michael agreed, adding that as pioneers of the BtR market in the UK, at Chapman Taylor we have noticed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change in working and living patterns. Five years ago, the BtR market catered for 25–35-year-olds, predominantly in city centres. But as this generation matures, its members are seeking more family-orientated settings and facilities including gardens, allotments, playgrounds, exercise areas and community centres, typically to be found in suburban areas.

What’s more, the cost of homeownership is now challenging many middle-income earners, with the number of those renting in the 35-64 age group having grown by 95% over the last ten years.

Michael talked about a new scheme in Chapman Taylor’s growing residential portfolio, which is a great example of how the SBtR format can appeal to couples and families who want to live further out of the city, with access to more space and amenities, as well as their own private outdoor space, when availability and price might make purchasing a home difficult.

With the UK population expected to pass 70 million within the next decade, our inability to meet the government’s annual housing supply target of 300,000 per year highlights an urgent need to explore other solutions. The panel discussed how the SBtR product can be viewed as an opportunity to tackle the housing supply, but even more importantly as a new model of living, with the aim of improving wellbeing and quality of life. We believe that SBtR can facilitate a transition towards a wider demographic and more inter-generational living model, bringing significant benefits for home working, for example with conveniently located grandparents assisting with childcare while parents work.

Placemaking

Catalina told the group about her PhD research in placemaking, a key aspect within BtR developments. Cat’s thesis focuses on the role of artist-led spaces as what she calls “urban activators” in the UK. Her research explores the argument that successful and sustainable placemaking requires more than just a mix of residential, retail, and commercial uses; there is a crucial role for the arts in this regard, which has not been greatly explored in the UK context. The key to this model is to create a safe and inclusive neighbourhood that engenders pride and a sense of ownership among its diverse and multi-generational demographic.

This contributes to Chapman Taylor’s expanding research capabilities within the wider residential sector. As Catalina noted, we are invested in developing a series of knowledge reports including the Residential Design Guide, the Responsible Design Guide, and the Placemaking Strategy Guide, further establishing ourselves as thought leaders in residential design and placemaking.

Michael added that the public sector has an important role to play in developing the social infrastructure, such as schools, green areas, and playgrounds. As architects and masterplanners, it’s important for us to focus on the vision and the sense of community that we wish to engender through the provision of our buildings, spaces and amenities.

At Chapman Taylor, our market-leading experience of Build-to-Rent has informed our thinking in developing successful SBtR places. We’ve also learnt from our experience in the US market. In the US, multi-family started with a focus on urban living, just like here, and is now shifting its focus to the single-family market, but within ‘commuter-belt’ locations. This was supported by the other panellists who also shared their own experience and learnings from the Australian and European markets.

Chapman Taylor is expanding its residential portfolio across the United Kingdom, with Suburban Build-to-Rent very much at the focus of our BtR and residential strategy. Our design approach aims to adopt best-practice thinking and technology combined with a progressive design for communal living. We strongly believe that single-family rental provides the opportunity to create a stakeholder-led community experience – a new type of community that unites and inspires its residents and provides a special living environment.

We would like to thank Bisnow for the inclusion in this fantastic event, as well as to all participants for a very insightful discussion about the single-family rental market and its opportunities within the UK.

Click here to read Michael and Catalina’s insight paper on SBtR for more detail.

Michael Swiszczowski (BA(Hons), MArch, ADPPA, ARB, RIBA)

Director, UK

Michael joined Chapman Taylor in 2016 to strengthen the practice’s residential expertise. He joined the UK Board in 2022 and continues to take an active in role in developing the practice’s residential and hospitality sectors across the UK business.

He has experience working on award-winning residential projects, with a particular focus on Build-to-Rent, student accommodation, hotels, serviced apartments and modular construction.

Michael is a regular speaker at residential and property conferences where he articulates Chapman Taylor’s design approach and skill-sets. He is also an RIBA-elected member of the Regional Council for RIBA North West.

Areas of expertise:

Residential / Build-to-Rent / Student Accommodation / Hotels

Catalina Ionita (BA(Hons) MArch ARB RIBA AFHEA)

Architect, UK

Catalina joined the Manchester studio in 2021 as an Architect supporting the Feasibility team. She brings a passion for successful placemaking to her work in the residential and mixed-use sectors.

She has experience working on a wide range of projects at all work stages, including large residential developments, masterplans, offices and listed buildings restorations.

Having completed her MArch degree in Architecture at Sheffield Hallam University in 2018, Catalina is now conducting PhD research there, with a focus on art-centred placemaking. In 2020, she made RIBA’s Rising Stars shortlist for her project work and her research on ethics and sustainability in architecture.

Areas of expertise:

Residential / Mixed-Use / Placemaking / Research

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