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6th November 2023
5 minutes

UK Planning System Must Support Co-living, Not Stifle It Says Shoosmiths

World-renowned law practice, Shoosmiths, has stated that the UK planning system “must” support the expanding and evolving co-living sector in the UK, not stifle it, as Shoosmiths claims vagaries and regional policy differences are causing difficulties for developers bringing projects forward across the country.

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Planning vagaries and policy differences across the regions in the UK are causing problems for property developers bringing forward co-living projects according to world-renowned law practice, Shoosmiths, who have urged the UK planning system to support the co-living sector in its ongoing expansion and evolution – as more renters create demand for this type of residential offering in the UK.

While the co-living sector in the UK is yet to fully “take off”, the sector is currently being bolstered by the entry of developers and operators into the market who are not only aiming to meet tenant demand but also global investor interest.

Shoosmiths have stated that one of the main obstacles currently “limiting” the co-living model’s potential across the country, is planning.

The co-living concept for planning permission is still in its infancy, and while market trends tend to move significantly faster than the planning system, the disconnect between regulatory officials and market demand has caused substantial difficulties for developers who are bringing co-living developments forward for planning to meet with an ill-equipped planning system.

Despite the cyclical nature of planning consultations, co-living schemes are consistently being shoe-horned into different aspects of the Use Class Order, or sui generis, which has led to inconsistent approaches to co-living amongst local planning authorities. Consequently, this inconsistent approach to the sector has not only impeded the development of perfectly capable schemes but is also impacting the sector's attraction to developers looking to enter the sector to expand their residential offering for their residents.

“As a relatively new type of housing, clear and flexible planning guidelines will be essential to the growth of co-living in the UK, especially for developers looking to repurpose assets. The model’s focus on building a community and social offering remains a nebulous concept when it comes to the planning system, so establishing a consistent national approach will be crucial to avoiding legal conflicts. For example, could a local planning authority currently seek to enforce a use because of a lack of community cohesion at a co-living scheme?” Matt Nixon, Legal Director and Planning Specialist at Shoosmiths.

Shoosmiths have also claimed that a common theme in the queries received by their in-house planning team relate to whether a particular use for the property could be utilised for the co-living type of accommodation and the tipping points that could result in the development moving from one use class to the other, or outside the sui generis use.

At Beech Holdings we have delivered over sixteen buildings across the Manchester area, ranging from period conversions to new-build fifteen-storey developments, meaning we are well experienced with the UK planning system and how to ensure that our buildings are acknowledged for their intended use.

We are also in the construction phase of the first-ever building that will be part of our City Co-Living brand, which will see 241 co-living apartments with a wide range of on-site amenities including movie rooms, residents’ lounges, co-workspaces, a state-of-the-art gym, and even a karaoke lounge brought to Newcastle city centre, right on the Quayside, with many more co-living developments in the pipeline.

Want to know more about the co-living sector and how it differs from PRS, PBSA, and HMO accommodations? Get in touch with our expert team today or call directly at +44 (0) 161 791 4600.

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