The pandemic has thrust attention upon our urban spaces, with many conversations around what will become of city centre offices, hospitality venues, and leisure offerings.

This was compounded by reports last year that UK towns and cities were seeing a ‘mass exodus’ of residents, as people sought to escape lockdown in smaller city dwellings and put down roots in tranquil country piles.

However, new data from listed landlord Grainger plc’s north west team has shown that the tide could be turning on this trend – and one its Head of Research believes city centres such as Manchester and Liverpool won’t suffer long-term as a result of people leaving during 2020.

As of June 2021, the Filaments scheme has seen viewings increase by 352% in three months, with reservations for apartments increasing by 188% since April 2021.

Leanne Hargreaves, regional general manager for Grainger’s north west BTR portfolio, said of the findings: “Cities are home to a variety of restaurants, leisure facilities and other amenities that enhance quality of life for their residents. That is what has always been the pull for people to live in these places; a degree of quality and variety in their lives that they quite simply can’t access in rural or suburban areas.

“The combination of home working and these types of venues being unavailable for public use during lockdown has, naturally, made some people consider leaving city centres. But for many, this isn’t the answer.”

“Cities have very interconnected ecosystems, and as soon as we saw a re-opening of hospitality and leisure, we saw a general pick up that will now be further accelerated as offices re-open, providing a wtrong knock-on effect for the whole city centre.

“Lifestyle is the city’s demand driver,” added Leanne. “Regardless of the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 on the private sector, people – especially young people – will continue to flock to cities for the lifestyle, social and networking benefits they offer.

“The data from our north west residential lettings team clearly echoes that. This is where we feel the build-to-rent sector will really come into its own as the dust begins to settle on the pandemic.

“Lifestyle is absolutely pivotal to the build-to-rent experience, and those who enjoy having all that a city centre offers right on their doorstep tend to love living in BTR apartments. The community aspect of these schemes is also huge, and after having been kept apart for so long, we anticipate that people will be seeking out experiences and ways of living which have community at their heart.

“As the UK begins to officially ‘reopen’, it makes sense that the flexibility, convenience and collective experience afforded by build-to-rent would appeal to those returning to city centres.

“We’re particularly excited to see how this plays out as we continue to lease-up our latest north west BTR scheme, The Filaments.”

The Filaments is an £80m Salford development comprising 376 homes, including a mixture of 365 apartments and 11 townhouses across three blocks – Neon House, Halogen House, and Lamp House.


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