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Co-living Backlash? A Report on Manchester’s Co-living Conundrum

Mark Hempshell reports

Co-living is a becoming something of a buzzword in development circles, with more and more schemes being brought forward. In this report we will look not at what co-living is as such, but at the issues it is raising for developers and planners. We will look at the current situation in Manchester. However, the issues it is raising here could equally apply anywhere in the country.

A simple definition might be that co-living accommodation is shared accommodation not unlike PBSA but for all age groups and occupations. Residents of co-living schemes generally occupy either a studio or cluster flat. The developments also often offer communal amenities such as lounges, cinema rooms and gyms with an onsite house manager or concierge. Residents generally pay one ‘all in’ monthly rent including domestic bills.

Co-living schemes are sometimes promoted as an affordable option for tenants in high living cost areas – although this is not necessarily the case. They also lock into the concept of the social, sharing economy, which is something of a trend right now.

From a developer/investor point of view it is not difficult to see the attractions of co-living as a new asset class. Such schemes generally offer attractive returns and yields and an ongoing revenue stream from management. A further aspect is that they can make the numbers add up where standard residential or even build to rent may not be viable.

So now let’s look at the current situation regarding co-living in the City of Manchester area: Manchester has seen huge city centre residential development in recent years as developers have sought to cater for the city’s growing economy and investor interest in it. Local authority figures say 5,000 new homes have been built in the city centre in the past five years, with a development pipeline of 9,000. Manchester City Council have proved to be development-positive with numerous high rise, high capacity apartment schemes either built, in progress or planned.

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