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Vote! Vote! Vote! Which U.K. Build-To-Rent Scheme Has The Best Amenities?

Amenities are crucial in the rapidly expanding world of U.K. build-to-rent apartments.

Too little and a scheme might not stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Too much and rents might have to be set at a high level, making the scheme unattractive to tenants, or development margins get squeezed.

Then there is the always thorny question of what tenants really value, what they can live without and what they are really willing to pay for.

Exercise your democratic rights.

Bisnow U.K.’s debut Build To Rent Annual Conference on 22 May will explore in-depth the question of amenity in the U.K. rented residential sector.

And to help inform the debate, Bisnow is giving our readers the chance to have your say on what schemes you think are getting it right.

Three developers — in alphabetical order Long Harbour, Manhattan Loft Corp. and Quintain — have given detailed information about schemes they have built or are building across the U.K., and the amenities they are providing.

All of the schemes are beyond Stage Three in the development process, meaning they might not be finished yet, but are well advanced in the construction process.

Your job is simple — tell us which of the three schemes offers the best amenities, and truly reflect what build-to-rent residents want.

As an incentive to share your views, someone who votes will be picked at random and receive two tickets to an event at Wembley Arena.

At the event, the developers will present their schemes to the audience, and a panel of renters will give their unbiased and uncompromising views. The winner of the reader vote will then be announced.

All you need to do is email with your vote. It may just help to shape the way schemes are built in the future.

Long Harbour, Skyline II, Manchester

Skyline II, Manchester

Long Harbour bought Skyline II in Manchester in 2013 and operates it through its Way of Life rented residential brand. The scheme comprises 129 apartments, and positions itself as offering a luxury lifestyle with amenities to rival a 5-star hotel.

The main attraction from Long Harbour’s point of view is a health and fitness club, featuring a 20-metre rooftop swimming pool and jacuzzi, two gymnasiums, sauna and steam room, boxing facilities, chill-out space for activities such as yoga and meditation and changing rooms.

Not only does this boost the health and well-being of customers, who are permitted to bring two guests per visit, it fosters a stronger sense of community by providing a shared space for guests to meet and socialise with their neighbours, Long Harbour said.

Its access data shows the health and fitness club was used 1,950 times in one month. Customer feedback and social media activity has said the amenity creates a "wow factor", Long Harbour said, which is reflected by an occupancy rate of 98%, with an average tenancy length of 18 to 24 months.

Rooftop swimming pool

The swimming pool at Skyline II

With 50 tenants using the pool facilities daily, it is undeniably a significant part of life at Skyline II, Long Harbour said.

Boxing facilities

Rooftop boxing facilities at Skyline II

What Long Harbour said is referred to by residents as the “gym in the sky”, the boxing area is a popular outdoor space for fitness-focused workouts. It is used most frequently on weekdays between 5pm and 9pm.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden, Skyline II

The Winter Garden is 226 SF, providing residents with a space large enough to host yoga sessions for five people. Long Harbour expects the usage to increase during the summer months and hopes to have a locally owned juice bar in the space. 

The gym

The gym at Skyline II.

The gym is 920 SF, offering cardio and weight options as well as newly refurbished changing rooms and lockers. It is open from 6am-10pm on weekdays, 8am-8pm on weekends, and is most popular after 6pm.

Manhattan Loft Corp., Manhattan Loft Gardens, London

Manhattan Loft Gardens

Manhattan Loft Corp. bought the site of Manhattan Loft Gardens in 2010, and the building will form part of the redevelopment of Stratford on sites around the former Olympic Park.

The 443-foot-tall building will comprise 248 apartments as well as 148 hotel rooms, restaurants, a gym, a wellness centre/spa, ground floor brasserie and bar, a private club and a triple height lobby. The building will be completed in 2018 and the hotel will open in 2019.

In terms of the unique amenity of the building, Manhattan pointed to the double-cantilevered design of the building which creates three “sky gardens” each with a different purpose. “The concept to reimagine London’s iconic garden squares, carving them into the tower at 95, 280 and 400 feet, offers three unbroken panoramic views and a chance for spontaneous connections amongst neighbours,” the company said.

36th-floor zen sky garden

36th-floor zen garden at Manhattan Loft Gardens

According to the company, the 36th-floor sky garden will be zen, relaxing, an oasis of calm for loft residents to enjoy the unobstructed view over London, spanning from Canary Wharf, over the City of London, and to the green countryside of Kent.

25th-floor heated sky garden

25th-floor heated sky garden at Manhattan Loft Gardens

The 25th-floor sky garden is protected from the elements by the cantilever, so the garden can be enjoyed 24/7 365 days of the year. Heated and with a bar, it will be a livelier, social garden space that residents and loft guests will be able to book out for birthdays, Manhattan Loft said.

Seventh-floor restaurant sky garden

Seventh-floor roof garden at Manhattan Loft Gardens

The seventh-floor sky garden will have a destination restaurant and bar, overseen by ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell. Manhattan Loft said guests will be encouraged to wander and relax in the garden before or after dinner and drinks.

Quintain, Canada Garden, London

Canada Garden

Canada Garden forms part of Quintain’s Wembley Park rented residential scheme, and consists of seven towers with a total of 743 apartments — 113 studios, 334 one-beds, 225 two-beds and 71 three-beds. The scheme is being built on the site of the former Canada Pavillion of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, on the south eastern side of a new 7-acre park.

Quintain said its research indicated that 36% of its potential customers would be families, and so it had decided to devote the scheme’s amenities to London families and their pets, with outdoor space at the heart of the offer. “These amenities will provide future residents with a quality of life at a price they can afford within easy reach of Central London,” Quintain said.

Podium garden

The podium garden area at Canada Garden

Canada Garden will include a private open space of 1.5 acres for the use of residents. This will include an allotment area including greenhouse, four sheds for residents to use and a dedicated dog run where pets can be let off the leash.

Clubhouse and BBQ area

The barbecue and clubhouse area at Canada Garden

The outside space will include five individual barbecue and picnic areas with brick-built barbecue pits that residents can book. There will also be a large terrace area partially covered over for use as a clubhouse.

Outdoor and indoor children’s play area

Kids play area at Canada Garden

The children’s play area will feature a 1,600 SF wading pond and beach area as well as an 8x3 metre, two-level wooden play ship modelled on Henry Hudson’s ship Discovery, in which he explored Northern Canada. There will also be a 484 SF indoor play area for kids, nearly the size of a one-bedroom apartment.

To find out the winners and hear from every significant company operating in the U.K. build-to-rent sector today sign up for Bisnow's Build To Rent Conference on 22 May.