The Greater London Authority (GLA) grants a Stage 2 planning consent for Balance Out Living’s debut scheme in Battersea, London: a sign of growing confidence in the co-living sector. Stage 2 consents are the final stage of a process in which local authority approvals are referred back to the GLA following its initial verdict that the scheme is of potential strategic importance (PSI) to London.
PSI developments receive a Stage 1 assessment from the London Mayor’s office before being transferred to the relevant local authority, and then back to the Mayor for Stage 2 consent, only if its stringent guidelines and policies are met.
“This consent is a vote of growing confidence in the co-living sector as well as the quality of our development. A Stage 2 referral is important because it is a real litmus test against the London Plan policies and establishes – particularly in the case of asset classes that aren’t clearly defined in the policy framework – that it is actively supported by the GLA.
“Achieving this consent under Sui Generis classification is evidence of the GLA’s receptiveness to expanding the parameters that are available to securing consents for co-living and helping to accommodate the broad range of demographics that call London home.”Zafar Bhunnnoo, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Balance Out Living
So far, only two other co-living schemes in London have received this form of consent from the GLA – Tide Construction’s 817-unit scheme on College Road, Croydon, and Urban Living’s 60-unit development in Ealing.
Balance Out Living’s approval is of particular significance as the site does not benefit from the ability to deliver on site C3 Affordable Housing, and has therefore agreed to a Payment in Lieu mechanism with both Wandsworth and the GLA.
The vertically integrated investor, developer and operator secured the Planning Committee green light via unanimous consent for the 213-home development earlier this year, as part of its 1,100-apartment pipeline in the capital.
The GLA is now considering consultation feedback – where Balance Out Living contributed as part of an industry consortium – on its Large-Scale Purpose-Built Shared Living Guidance, published February 2022. The document offers guidance for quality standards around items such as room sizes and amenities – creating a defined policy framework for the co-living sector.
“The GLA has turned its attention towards the co-living sector over the last few years in recognition of its potentially valuable contribution to the capital’s housing mix and future supply. The fact that we are now working towards a more formalised policy framework provides additional clarity as well as significantly de-risks developments for investors and developers.”Sarah Christie, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Balance Out Living
According to the latest data from Savills, the potential size of the ‘core target market’ for co-living across the UK is c.725,000 units. London accounts for nearly 160,000 of those – around 22%. A total of 24,000 co-living units are either operational or in the pipeline, with a 50/50 split between London and the regions.