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Make A Date: May 2019 In Manchester Means The Birth Of A New U.K. Co-Living Sector

IQ Student Accommodation’s Echo Street project in Manchester, featuring towers of 25, 20, and 14 storeys, coliving co-living
IQ Student Accommodation’s Echo Street co-living development, Manchester

Construction work on the U.K.’s first purpose-built co-living scheme will begin in Manchester in May.

The development by IQ Student Accommodation at Echo Street, Granby Row, part of the North Campus district close to both Piccadilly station and the main university campuses, will include three towers of up to 25 storeys and 403 co-living units.

There will also be 94 units of student housing. The scheme is designed by Sheppard Robson.

“Work on-site will begin in May 2019. There will be phased completion with student housing opening first, in 2021, and the rest six months after that,” Sheppard Robson partner Rupert Goddard said.

The contractor will be Vinci, Place North West reports.

Residents will benefit from fully furnished apartments, shared living, amenity spaces and all-inclusive rents as well as 24/7 security and management. Shared spaces include collaborative work spaces, lounges, a library, gym and rooftop terrace and sky lounge.

The development will replace the existing Chandos House, which is currently owned and operated by IQ for student accommodation purposes.

Co-living london
Co-living at The Collective's Old Oak Common

Co-living is already established in many U.S. cities and is taking its first steps in London.

The Collective’s 546-bedroom Old Oak scheme is said to be among the largest single co-living schemes in the world. Unlike the Echo Street scheme it involved the conversion of existing premises.

The Collective is planning similar schemes in King’s Cross, Kentish Town and Stratford. Other operators are active in the sector, such as Spaces Property, which is planning a significant scheme near London Bridge.

The co-living idea is receiving support from senior figures in Manchester, where the city council approved the Echo Street scheme earlier this year. Newly appointed director of housing and residential growth Jon Sawyer spoke about his hopes for co-living at the recent Bisnow Manchester Build-to-Rent Boom eventgrips.

“As the market rent sector grows it’s all about production and proposition," he said. "The U.K. property market has got to [come to] grips with the idea that two people sharing a flat don’t want one big bedroom, one small bedroom and a bathroom. That’s the wrong product. But truthfully we need to see products evolving much beyond that."

Sawyer said to he hopes to see rental rooms included in BTR blocks so that visitors do not have to spend the night in hotels, but can instead stay in the same building as their friends.

“Is it happening? We’re edging there. We’re starting to see the start of co-living but in my head I see steps way beyond that. We want to see more tenure choice, more lease length choice and other products, not just leases,” he said.

You can read about the experiences of two Brockton Capital executives who were tasked with trying out co-living in London here.