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Manchester seeks to put the brakes on ‘inappropriate’ co-living trend


Manchester City Council has revealed plans to restrict the development of the city’s emerging co-living sector

The city is concerned that the ‘untested’ shared housing model is not suitable and is drawing up a policy for co-living reflecting its change of attitude in its new local plan.

The co-living model is commonly found in larger metropolitan areas facing housing affordability crises and comprises clusters of apartments that share communal spaces and amenities.

The trend is growing, yet critics of the model argue that the typically small rooms and shared spaces are little more than glorified university dormitories.

A recent report to Manchester City Council’s executive committee read: ’Given that the product is untested in Manchester, it is not considered appropriate to approve a significant level of co-living accommodation.

’It is suggested that only a restricted amount can be supported in advance of a full policy approach being developed.’

The report notes that co-living has taken off in London because the market there is so squeezed, but that housing in Manchester is still relatively affordable.  

It continues: ’Against this backdrop, therefore, we do not believe that co-living is required, or appropriate, to address affordability pressures in Manchester, in the same way as it is in other American cities or London.’

The report claimed there was evidence that some units, mainly studios, are up to 50 per cent smaller than national space standards guidance.

This means the smaller co-living homes will ‘not generally be seen as appropriate’ for long-term residents, the council said. 

Echo street 2

Echo street 2

Sheppard Robson’s iQ scheme in Manchester

The document suggests limiting new schemes to the city centre and puts forward a list of criteria co-living schemes should meet.

The first co-living scheme in Manchester was Echo Street, a high-rise designed by Sheppard Robson for iQ, providing 642 co-living bedrooms plus 242 student bedrooms in an all-inclusive model.

Rupert Goddard, partner at Sheppard Robson, said: ’We believe that – if properly designed and managed – co-living has a part to play in Manchester’s rapidly changing residential market, supporting graduate retention in the city and complementing the existing mix.

’Graduate retention in Manchester is good compared to other regional cities but it could be improved. The right tenure mix could boost this, helping increase the knowledge-rich pool of potential employees that businesses are looking for.

’However, we understand the city’s concerns, and support tighter justification of design standards, with this scrutiny hopefully leading to the right quality and balance of tenures that will help the city centre thrive.’

Other schemes include a co-living tower designed by Denter Corker Marshall in St John’s, while Place North West has reported that a huge 2,204-bed co-living scheme designed by Simpson Haugh was set to be submitted to planning last month.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Thank you Manchester. The cynical use of the pre-fix 'co' has to stop.

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  • Suggested New Year's resolution for the AJ: a button to 'like' comments (and maybe a 'disagree' one too). I should like to be able to agree with people like Sophie Marks without having to add anything more.

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