Plymouth to be at forefront of new era in co-living

Plymouth could be among a select group of UK locations to pioneer a new form of community living under plans for a ‘vertical village’ aimed at revitalising the city centre.

Developers are putting the finishing touches to proposals for a co-living development at Derry’s Cross that will give residents on short and long-term leases access to high quality, in-house amenities, including restaurants, bars, a cinema, sports facilities and libraries as well as a series of roof gardens.

Developed in response to the Government’s white paper, ‘Fixing our broken house market’, the proposed building will form part of a public exhibition in the city in January.
After consulting with local people and taking their views on board, a revised planning application will be submitted to Plymouth City Council later in the year.

The proposal is the brainchild of Glasgow-based Structured House Group (SHG), which is behind similar developments in Dundee, Manchester and Glasgow.
It will offer accommodation of various types to young professionals and is aimed at helping to generate employment in line with the local authority’s economic development plan for the city.

Craig Inglis, chief executive of SHG, said: “We’re facing a housing crisis nationally because a shortage of accommodation, which means we’re unable to meet demand. Because so few young people can afford to join the property ladder, compared with a generation ago, they’re living with their parents for longer.

“Rental stock is limited and often they're paying over the odds for space they don't want or need at that stage in their lives, which impacts on their ability to buy later.

“What we’re proposing is essentially a vertical village that meets the requirements of modern living at a rental price young people can afford.”

He added:  “This model of living, which is increasingly popular in America, will offer young professionals the opportunity to live on their own, with cooking, laundry and leisure facilities on site, at a price that allows them to save for a mortgage deposit.” 

The development will be managed by a subsidiary of SHG. If given the go-ahead, it will represent a significant boost for the local economy, according to Mr Inglis.

“The trend across the UK is for city centres to become places for people to live in as a means of regenerating former industrial areas, he said.

“If we want to bring city centres back to life, people need to live in them. We’ve seen it happen in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool and this is a major step towards helping Plymouth to join that process.”

SHG has revised an earlier proposal for the site, which currently houses the Reel Cinema as well as a tapas bar and a bingo hall. 

“We have listened to the views of local people, taken their thoughts on board and, because we’re a listening company, altered out plans accordingly," said Mr Inglis. This revised proposal is compiled by a new team with a fresh approach and different ideas.”

While the cinema is not listed or in a conservation area, replacing it led to some opposition despite current owners saying it has no future after a multiplex is built in nearby Bretonside.

Alastair Cook, development director for SHG, said the company remains open minded about retaining the façade of the building but that it will depend on several factors, including expert opinion.

He said: “We have just been through independent Design Panel Review and it is very supportive of our proposals as they stand. It noted that the cinema building was turned down for listing and that, while the Art Deco frontage has architectural merit, it may not be sensible to try and integrate this existing frontage into any new proposals as it may relate poorly to its new surroundings.

“We are working towards a public exhibition in January 2018 and at that stage we will want to hear the views of local people and others with an interest in the project.”