Chapman Taylor moderates key panel discussion at Bisnow “Manchester build-to-rent boom” conference

Michael Swiszczowski (r) moderated the panel discussion

Several Chapman Taylor team members attended the Bisnow ‘Manchester Build-to-Rent Boom!’ conference at the Hilton Deansgate in Manchester on 6 September, where Associate Director Michael Swiszczowski moderated a discussion on ‘Attracting and Retaining Residents: Community Development and Design!’

Key themes for the discussion were affordability, diversity and community.

Chapman Taylor has worked on over 1,000 Build-to-Rent units in the city centre, and several of these schemes were mentioned as exemplars during the debate.

John Sawyer, the new Director of Housing and Residential Growth at Manchester City Council said that the council will increasingly push for affordable housing. He said that Manchester Life will continue to provide Build-to-Rent schemes, such as the Sawmill Court scheme in the city centre, which Chapman Taylor and Eric Wright Construction recently handed over, but will also target places outside the city to provide more tenant choice. As part of this drive, approval has been given for four Housing Affordability Zones (including Wythenshawe town centre) where the Council owns a significant amount of land which can be used to help accelerate the provision of affordable housing.

Alex Greaves, Head of Residential Investment at M&G Real Estate, said that he thought there would be a readjustment and consolidation of the Build-to-Rent market over the next five years, particularly post-Brexit. At the moment, the market is predominantly focused on the 25-34 demographic, but this will change and the number of young families and older people will increase. He emphasised the importance of providing diversity of accommodation to meet this trend.

Tim Heatly, Co-founder of Capital and Centric, used the analogy of chain restaurants such as Jamie’s Italian, Byron and Goucho. These provide great food offers but, in excess, create homogenous urban centres, leaving people craving local independents. As a positive example, he gave the example of the 533 apartments at Kampus (another scheme where Chapman Taylor have been appointed to deliver the project), which will provide an eclectic range of accommodation, including rooftop Dutch houses and a refurbished tower. The scheme has been designed as a garden neighbourhood, with independent cafés, bars, shops and restaurants, and is open to the wider community. But residents can choose to socialise or retreat in privacy to their homes if they choose.

Graham Bates, Chief Executive of Liv Group, said that it cannot be underestimated how important a sense of community is to a Build-to-Rent scheme. However, he added that this needs to grow organically and cannot be forced. Recently, attention has been focused on providing an increasing number of amenity spaces, such as dog showers. However, when the “amenity wars” have died down, it will prove to be all about service and brand - with “brand” referring to much more than the name or logo.

Sowgol Zarinchang, Managing Director of Long Harbour’s Way of Life management platform, said that she prefers to think of brand as the personal touch, and that she strives for word-of-mouth recommendations for her schemes.

Gavin Taylor, Regional General Manager at Far East Consortium, added that developing a community takes time, citing the Angel Meadow project, which will provide 756 apartments, penthouses and townhouses in the MeadowSide development overlooking Angel Meadow, Manchester’s largest open green space as part of the 20-acre NOMA neighbourhood.

James Sidlow, Project Director at Allied London, described Allied’s approach at the St John’s development in Manchester in using historic buildings and community landmarks to reshape the city in a positive way: “It’s all about little interventions… extracting the history and story into the brand.” In response to Michael Swiszczowski’s question about whether there is a danger of being sucked into designing and paying for transient amenities which will have gone out of style before the development’s doors are even opened, Sidlow said that any amenities have to be part of a solid wider masterplan which will stand the test of time – preventing ideas for amenities from becoming eyesore white elephants which put people off living there.

To summarise, the panel agreed that high levels of employment, the quality of educational facilities, high graduate retention levels and a very proactive local authority are all reasons why, outside of London, Manchester is seen as the Build-to-Rent capital of the UK.

The attendees expressed great satisfaction with the quality of discussion about the Build-to-Rent sector which took place on Michael’s panel.

Chapman Taylor is expanding its residential portfolio across the United Kingdom, with Build-to-Rent developments very much at the heart of its strategy. It is also leading the way in innovative off-site design and construction methods, which is one solution in helping combat the UK’s housing crisis. We would like to thank Bisnow and all the participants for a very insightful exchange of ideas about the best way forward for Build-to-Rent developments.

For more information, please contact:

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

Associate Director, Manchester

Michael joined Chapman Taylor in 2016 to strengthen the practice’s residential expertise. A key member of the Manchester studio’s management team, Michael has a business development remit for the residential sector across the UK business.

He has experience working on award winning residential projects with a particular focus on build-to-rent, student accommodation and modular construction.
 
He is an RIBA-elected member of the Regional Council for RIBA North West.

Areas of expertise:

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

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