Dominic Martin, Operations Director at build to rent (BtR) owner/operator, Atlas Residential, shares his thoughts as to why low-rise, ‘garden style’ living should hold a place in tomorrow’s UK housing tenure
It has been long acknowledged that there is no silver bullet to the housing crisis, homes of every size and shape and tenure need to feature.
Yet, the debate is so far limited to apartments in city centres and houses everywhere else. But there should be a place for low rise apartments as part of the wider BtR conversation.
This coincides with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stating that the UK population will surpass 70 million in 2029, a further 3.6 million in the next 12 years alone and that the growth of renting is nationwide, not just limited to the large urban conurbations.
Interestingly it is families becoming a more dominant growth age group with Legal & General (L&G) announcing that they are expanding BtR into single family units. In the US operation of Atlas Residential, the average age of residents is 35 years.
In the US, low rise apartments, or ‘garden style living’ makes up the majority of the BtR sector there (aka ‘multi-family housing’).
So what might that look like in the UK?
Of course, the UK is different from the US and hence the exact same building style cannot simply be “copied and pasted”, especially as BtR sites here in the UK typically offer additional on-site amenities such as communal lounges, gyms, swimming pools etc, as well as pet-friendly facilities but inspiration can be drawn.
A move towards more varied unit mixes in developments, one which accommodates the changing needs of family life from larger units to greater open-plan living spaces, lower density developments, more private and communal spaces and family-centric amenities such as playgrounds and cycle paths.
With UK BtR stock already at 100,000 units with many thousands more in the pipeline, maybe now is the time for developers, contractors and architects to sit down with planners to review the role of low-rise, ‘garden style’ living in Britain?