By Jodie Wardell, Head of BTR, Hatch Interiors
As life in the UK takes its first tentative steps back to some kind of normal, the only prediction we’re reasonably confident of making with any degree of certainty is that ‘normal’ has changed. For now, and for a good while to come – weeks, months, maybe a year or more – ‘normal’ is going to look a bit different.
In our industry, there’s already evidence to suggest property attitudes have changed as a result of the enforced lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
It seems that the extended period of lockdown may have transformed what consumers want from their homes. According to data from Savills, 49% of respondents in a survey said the amount of garden or outside space had become more important as a result of the lockdown. In addition, 41% of people said they were more attracted now to a countryside location.
Indeed, we’re potentially also seeing the start of a new property shift, with reports of rental rates falling in London as tenants consider trading city living for country dwelling. This bucks the strong prevailing trend of the last 10-15 years, which saw a boom in city centre living. Between 2002-2015 we witnessed huge increases in those living in city centres – up 181% in Liverpool, 163% in Birmingham, 150% in Leeds and even 22% in London. The number of 20-29-year-olds living at the heart of large UK cities tripled in the first decade of the 21st century – with 75% of them renting flats and apartments.
To cater for the city living trend, Build to Rent developments and the private rented sector grew accordingly, helping to create new communities located close to working hubs. The question we may face now, and in the near future, is this: will the upward trend of city living and working start to slow, if consumers show a strong preference for properties in rural areas?
The lure of the country vs the appeal of the city is something for the Build to Rent industry to consider. At Hatch, we think it’s more important than ever to embrace and promote the urban lifestyle, with all the benefits it brings. City living delivers reduced commuting times, exciting cultural and social opportunities, vibrant and welcoming local communities; all of which will appeal to a new generation of renters, including families, older couples who won’t want to feel isolated, and young singles and couples pursuing their professional ambitions.
Living in a city can give you a sense of togetherness and inclusion that some rural areas can’t, and some will surely crave the interaction they have missed during lockdown.
City centre properties may have to adapt too, and we’re already seeing at Hatch that interior design is playing a key role and rising to the challenge. More than ever, the interior of a Build to Rent apartment or house is hugely important. If consumers are to spend more time in their own homes, as their leisure and working habits change somewhat, creating a sense of space is crucial.
We believe that open-plan, flexible spaces will come to the fore, allowing consumers to live, work, entertain and exercise at home. Host a breakfast meeting before indulging in a yoga workout, perhaps taking in the view provided by bifold doors overlooking a ground floor garden, or a scenic cityscape via a balcony. Accentuating the link between the indoors and outdoors is a smart way of blending the best of the country and the city.
At Hatch our design team is creating interiors that combine aspirational urban cool with effective home working spaces and also support wellbeing. We’re working with UK suppliers to create flexible furniture solutions that make the most of smaller spaces, to ensure that owners and tenants benefit from all the aspects of a modern multi-function home in a city centre location.
Urban properties may face more competition from rural, country cousins, but harnessing innovative and creative interiors can help to sell the enduring dream of stylish, modern apartment living.
Chat to us today about our inspiring interiors and smart living solutions.