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Business & Economy

Co-living – an alternative to city centre life

Oliver Joslin, planning and development assistant, and Paul Fairlamb, commercial chartered surveyor, take a look at the rising demand for co-living in the UK, and how this modern way of living is reshaping planning policies up and down the country.

Urban areas are complex spaces influenced by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the economy, transport, environment and sustainability.

Currently, 55 per cent of the world’s population live in cities, and there is little sign of this trend slowing: by 2050, it is estimated the figure will stand at 70 per cent (The World Bank, 2020).

Demands for city centre living have shifted in the UK in response to COVID-19. Where some have felt the draw of the countryside (Rightmove reported a 15 to 20 per cent increase in rental properties outside of big cities in 2021), others continue to prefer the opportunities for social interaction and convenience offered within towns and cities: a place in which residential offer is continuing to evolve. Forming part of this evolution is the concept of co-living.

Co-living is a shared form of accommodation by which amenities and facilities such as kitchens, communal areas and study areas are shared; tenants are assigned individual furnished private rooms with toiletry facilities.

This style of living is becoming increasingly attractive for young professionals as it plugs a gap between the affordability of housing within cities (or lack thereof), whilst offering prominent city centre locations; opportunities for employment, recreation and social cohesion.

These spaces are also convenient, with the pressure of finding room-mates, furnishing, and liaising with agencies replaced with the pressure of justifying the third takeaway that week and the formation of a bin rota.

The increasing demand for co-living is becoming acknowledged nationally following the inclusion of planning policies relating to its use within development plans across the country (such as the London Plan) and planning guidance, including that prepared by Birmingham and Leeds councils.

Policies and guidance acknowledge the precedence for co-living accommodation within the housing market whilst maintaining a high standard of amenity for residents.

Within the North East, focus has predominantly centred towards student and purpose-built private rented accommodation, however, this is a trend that soon may change, reflecting an increased demand for co-living accommodation in other parts of the country.

The commercial team at youngsRPS acts on behalf of clients seeking to identify suitable sites for co-living accommodation within Newcastle; the planning team provides viability and feasibility towards incorporating schemes for clients across the country.

Despite the challenges of Brexit and the global pandemic, demand for urban living continues to grow, and the market has evolved in response to the potential to support vibrant town and city centres.