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MIPIM UK: Architects have key role in PRS market

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Architects will play a crucial role in the success of the burgeoning build to rent market, according to the executive director of property management company Grainger Nick Jopling

Jopling was speaking at the ‘The Rise of PRS: A nation of renters’ panel debate hosted by MIPIM UK and co-organised by the Urban Land Institute.

‘Architects took the lead on the Urban Land Institute’s design guidelines, which are for someone who wants to rent a building for 20 years and does not want to sell a single unit,’ he said. ‘You are talking about a really efficient build cost with wider corridors, amenity spaces and loading ramps for tenants. All this is part of the design exercise and architects are really important in this.’

Jopling’s fellow panelists included: national head of residential consulting at BNP Paribas Adrian Owen; Geeta Nanda, ceo of Thames Valley Housing; James Lidgate, head of residential at Legal and General property and Robert Stone, development director of Balfour Beatty Investments.

Owen said that currently the Build to Rent market in the United States was more advanced than the UK’s and that good building management would drive the market’s success. ‘Operators are the key to getting the build to rent sector going. Operators and scalability. We need to build at scale and build fast,’ he said. 

Political pressure for people to become homeowners had led to a ‘blinkered’ way of thinking, according to Lidgate who said that the new generation really wanted choice.

‘We need to future proof these projects so that people still want to live there in 50 years time,’ he added.

However, despite the apparent appetite for build to rent homes in London, Stone pointed out it was much harder to make build to rent schemes work outside of the capital. He also sounded a note of caution when it came to the issue of family housing. ‘How are we going to address the family housing if we are building apartments?’ In tackling the shortage of housing for families, Nanda said it was important that there was a good amount of storage space and external space designed into build to rent blocks. ‘There is very little choice for families. The biggest increase in homelessness for families is private tenancies ending.’  

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