North West Build-to-Rent conference

On 5th May, Place North West hosted a conference examining the rise of the Build-to-Rent sector in Manchester and its growing presence throughout the region.

Chapman Taylor architect Catalina Ionita gave a presentation about the role of design in Build-to-Rent developments and also joined a panel discussion about the product’s evolution in the region, alongside Steve Hollands, senior investment manager, Pension Insurance Corporation, Mark Bousfield, strategic director for development, Liverpool City Council, Victoria Russell, group project director of strategy, culture & partnerships, Property Alliance Group and Darran Lawless, development director, Placefirst.

In her presentation, Catalina shared that Build-to-Rent is readdressing the often unbalanced relationship between the tenant and the landlord. The hospitality sector offers learnings in terms of design, and how to increase occupancy and rents. Flexible space and amenities are also very important in this market, particularly post-pandemic. She spoke about Kampus, which has achieved the highest rents in the country outside of London, as well as Anchorage Gateway, currently on site.

To view Chapman Taylor's presentation, visit here.

The opening presenter also used Kampus as his main case study. Ian Scott, managing director of The Martin Property Group’s living division, used industry data to paint a largely positive picture of the market, and described Manchester as the Build-to-Rent capital of the UK. He talked about Kampus’ “extraordinary lease-up rates” adding: “We believe that there are high levels of demand like this across the whole of the UK for the right product”.

In the panel discussion, Catalina also spoke about modular development. She said: “There are opportunities to explore, especially from a sustainability agenda. Using off-site construction can massively reduce waste. It can speed up construction as well”.

The panel ended with a look at lessons learned. Lawless said: “It’s really important that you have a clear idea of what the demographic and what the demand is, and hopefully see an opportunity that others have missed because it’s a very, very competitive world out there”.

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 building restorations.

Catalina is teaching a Masters of Architecture and Urbanism course one day a week at Manchester School of Architecture, whilst completing PhD research, 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. Cat is also a committee member for Women in Property North West, with a strategic role as Inclusion Champion.

Areas of expertise:

Place making / Residential / Mixed-Use /Research

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