"Ireland is in an advantageous position having designated Co-Living as a recognised form of residential development. The question now is will there be sufficient demand for Co-Living developments in Ireland? Will they be an affordable form of accommodation? And where will Co-Living developments make sense?"
Following on from my first blog post where I highlighted the potential for the microliving model in Ireland and the negativity surrounding Co-Living development, I wanted to draw on my experience from touring and staying in a Co-Living development to give people a better understanding of how these schemes work!
The Collective have recently acquired their first Co-Living development site in Dublin and have identified Dublin as one of the key growth areas for their overall expansion going forward. With two existing developments in London in Acton & Canary Wharf, and with several other sites identified and planning granted including sites in Wandsworth and Harrow in London, they are leading the charge in terms of Co-Living development in the UK and abroad. They have also acquired several locations in New York.
Myself and two colleagues stayed at The Collective Canary Wharf for 2 days and went with an open mind, with an objective to further our understanding of the Co-Living concept first hand. We first embarked on a tour of Old Oak, The Collective’s first major venture into the world of Co-Living.
Old Oak, situated in North Acton, was their first big jump into Co-Living development on a grand scale, with 592 bed spaces in total. Having previously been used as offices and with planning permission in place for a student accommodation development, The Collective sought to implement their vision for Co-Living within the scheme.
Upon entering the Old Oak scheme, it is evident that the sense of community and collaboration among the tenants has really evolved, with groups of people of all shapes and sizes huddled together, socialising, working…. living. Creation of community is one of the key focus points for Co-Living developments and one that helps solidify the concept as a whole. Focus on the end user!
When first established, daily events & classes were arranged by The Collective to help encourage tenants to network among each other. However, what they found was that after several months, tenants began to host and organise their own events and classes through the building’s dedicated mobile app, with languages and computer coding proving to be some of the more popular classes. This organic growth of community has helped to limit the churn of tenants and in turn, harbour the sense of community within the scheme.
With a gym, café, cinema room and co-working space included among many more on-site amenities, along with utilities including wi-fi, cleaning and linen changes all included within the monthly fee, Old Oak has been running at near full occupancy since the first 6 months of opening its doors. And what of the number of units per floor to communal kitchens? All units in Old Oak provide for a kitchenette within the unit and has on average 40 bed spaces per communal kitchen, with minimal capacity issues ever reported by the tenants. They have also been able to add to their ancillary income by renting desk spaces to non-residents within their co-working space which has proved very popular. The café and gym are also open to the public and have assisted in embedding Old Oak as part of the wider community.
The Collective’s second Co-Living endeavour in the London market comes in the form of their recent Canary Wharf development. What first strikes you when approaching the Canary Wharf scheme is the sheer scale of the development! Spanning 21 storeys and 705 bed spaces in total, it is just shy of the Tara Towers development, Dublin City’s tallest permitted structure!
While Old Oak is catered for long terms stays only, with a minimum stay of 4 months, Canary Wharf allows stays from one night to twelve months. This has been very much planning led as the site is located in an area zoned for commercial development and therefore restrictive in terms of the allowable capacity of residential use on site.
Canary Wharf definitely has a more up-market feel from the moment you walk in the door, reflective of the buzzing metropolis it finds itself situated in. With a lot of the same amenities provided as with Old Oak, albeit with a much more contemporary feel, Canary Wharf also has the benefit of a golf simulator and swimming pool exclusive to occupants on the 20th floor, as well as a restaurant which is open to the public.
With rooms ranging in size from 12 sq. m (Cosy), 16 sq. m (Standard), 25 sq. m (Comfy) & 32 sq. m (Big), Canary Wharf offers a greater variety of room sizes in comparison to Old Oak which is predominately “twodio” focused. Again, this is very much led by the student accommodation planning which was in place.
Having viewed both schemes and stayed in Canary Wharf, there is plenty to be taken away in terms of the Co-Living concept and how it will be implemented in Ireland. While neither scheme is a purpose built Co-Living scheme, the fundamentals of convenience & community still apply within both. The provision of amenities and communal facilities, with a focus on the demographic profile of the end users, will be pivotal in the design and implementation of Co-Living schemes going forward and one which developers will have to pay serious consideration to.
The Question Therefore
As previously mentioned in my previous post, Ireland is in an advantageous position having designated Co-Living as a recognised form of residential development. The question now is will there be sufficient demand for Co-Living developments in Ireland? Will they be an affordable form of accommodation? And where will Co-Living developments make sense?
Darragh Deasy is a Senior Surveyor with the development land team in CBRE Ireland, with a focus on traditional residential and BTR development.
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