The elephants in the build to rent room
Does placemaking hold the key to enhanced returns?
How to build a community
3 insights in 3 minutes
Thank you for having us here in one of your beautiful get living apartments at East Village. How do you think you've created placemaking here?
I think placemaking is the piece we've learned the most as we've gone through. I think early on there was very much a focus on 1,500 homes how are you going to let them, but actually it was about how you're going make the place - trying to create opportunities for people to meet their neighbours.
I'm not of the view that people London don't want to meet other people. People always talk about the tube and how people don’t talk to each other. But absolutely in this role you really learn that people do want to meet other people and the more events and circumstances we can create for people to do that, the better.
Very early on we've put on a number of big events to really put East Village on the map, but also to give the people who lived here something to really enjoy, so you've got that community piece. The retail was really important to us, we've got about 35 retail outlets and it took a while for that to get going, but we've focused on independence and that's had a really big impact. And what's interesting is that the residents really buy into the retail piece and really buy into the independent piece.
In terms of choosing your retailers, you mentioned you've got 35 independent ones, how do you go about making sure that you've got the right mix in order to create the kind of place you want?
Before we had the majority of the retail, in fact before we have much of the retail open, and bear in mind we've got Westfield our doorstep, the number one feedback, and we interview about a hundred of our residents every month, the number one feedback is ‘when's the retail coming?’
So I think that said to us how important it was and one of the things that we've instigated now is shorter term leases and some pop ups as well so we can make sure it stays fresh. We can make sure we've got the right mix. We're bringing more leisure into the mix at the moment as well and that's something that you know we've learnt when you start these things I think you have to be realistic that not everything is going to work and you have to be flexible. You have to listen to feedback, and so that's something that’s important to the way we've looked at a retail strategy.
What do you think the financial benefits are?
Something I heard very early on in the US, where people talked about, you sleep in the apartment but live in the building. I think we've taken it a step further, in that you sleep in the apartment but you live in the neighbourhood. And I think what it does, is it retains the attraction of the area, so rather than just being a really nice square box that people live in, it actually turns into an environment that people really want to be in. So in terms of financial benefits of that, it helps on retention and it also works as we get a lot of referrals. So over 20% of our new residents are referred from our current residents, and a lot of that is, one, because our residents like it but, two, because their friends come over they see the place, they see all the placemaking that we've done, the community of the neighbourhood that's being created. So it actually gives them a real attraction to the location. And what we don't do in terms of those retail is really try and milk them for the last penny, because we know that it's like an anchor store in a shopping centre - you got the right offering down there, and it will really help on the residential side.
A quick insight into another elephant in the Build to Rent room – placemaking.
Does it hold the key to enhanced returns?
Watch this short interview with Neil Young, CEO at Get Living, to find out how his team built a neighbourhood in the East Village, London.
Janany specialises in development work and has experience acting for both registered providers and private developers in development acquisitions and disposals. Janany also has experience acting for…View Janany Kathirgamanathan's full profile