Manchester puts the brakes on co-living developments

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 20 December 2019


UK: Manchester City Council has said development of co-living schemes in the city should be limited until the concept is properly tested.

A report to Manchester’s executive committee by strategic growth and development director Eddie Smith said: “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 co-living should only be supported in a very limited number of places, in restricted amounts, within the city centre and under specific circumstances.”

The report said the council should consult with stakeholders, with a view to developing a policy on co-living in its local plan, to be adopted in 2023.

In his report, Smith noted that co-living is an undefined type of development in the National Planning Policy Framework, unlike the build-to-rent sector or recognised shared accommodation such as HMOs. This means co-living schemes in Manchester would be submitted to planning as sui generis development, which does not fall within a particular use class, and therefore does not have to conform to nationally prescribed space standards for housing. Currently, this is 37 square metres for a studio or one-bedroom unit, and 50 square metres for a two-person unit.

“The evidence suggests that some [co-living] units – mainly studios – are up to 50 per cent smaller than these standards,” the report said. “Given the size and nature of the product, the smaller co-living studio spaces would not be considered acceptable as permanent homes for residents.”

Manchester has seen several co-living projects completed or announced recently, including Downing’s 2,204-bed scheme at First Street, iQ’s Sheppard Street project, Oppidan in the Northern Quarter and Vita Group’s Union.



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