After 18 months of experiencing a lack of travel, holidays, and face to face meetings, it would be fair to say that a short trip up to Manchester was a welcome change from daily life between the London office and home. The city has changed massively since I last visited 2/3 years ago, with a real sense of growth and excitement surrounding it. From new commercial units, an everchanging skyline and high occupancy levels in rental properties, it is a city very much flourishing as the business epicentre of the north.
I had the pleasure of seeing Allsop’s newest development Vox, and it is something very special. A real glimpse into what a brand new 2021 Build to Rent scheme should look like. Smiling faces on arrival, a spacious lobby full of light, and well furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. From the second you walk in; it does really feel like a place you can call home.
Greeting me were Kate (General Manager) and Indea (Assistant GM), who were warm, friendly and welcoming. I was whisked into one of the 4 elevators (which is more than I have seen in other buildings of this size) and straight up to the roof. As I walk out of the lift, I spot a wall with a picture of each resident’s pet alongside their name – a nice touch.
I walked out into the glorious Manchester sunshine and onto the spacious roof, which has a running track and spectacular views over the city. Kate greets one of the residents by name and Indea regales me with a recent event that took place in the communal lounge, flower arranging, which seems to have brought a lot of the members of the community together. The running track is well used, with a resident recently completing a marathon on the roof for charity!
So, ‘community’ is something that a lot of buildings want to create, but how many of them actually do? The more I talk to Kate and Indea, the more I get the sense that this is one of the top priorities. Technology of course plays a big part in this, and the state-of-the-art gym, spin room and exercise studio seem to be a big hit with residents. Alongside this runs an events programme which offers a variety of events to cater to the needs of differing guests. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook sit alongside a resident’s app, which Allsop uses to encourage communication between their residents.
So, what about the rooms? Overall, a little smaller than it’s sister, Trilogy, in terms of square footage but the feel and specification is very impressive. Some flats have balconies with great views and all for a very competitive market price. Well-furnished thanks to White Circle and well maintained, with all issues being dealt with promptly with assistance from an integrated resident’s app that allows them access to their post and parcels.
Interestingly, both Kate and Indea have backgrounds in the student accommodation sector and have found the transition across to build to rent fairly smooth. Both agree the sales cycle is different and the residents have more of an interest in creating a community, as it is a permanent home for many. They both agree that Build to Rent is the place to be at the moment across alternative investments. Viewings are going through the roof; occupancy levels are above projected rates and there are new buildings going up across all corners of the UK.
The tour wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the car park, where awaiting me was a fully ‘Vox branded’ electric vehicle which is available for rental through an app. A great marketing tool and something very useful for residents who need occasional use of a car. Back into the lobby and I find myself greeted by a baby in its mother’s arms with a huge grin on its face. It seems even little ones can’t contain their excitement about Vox!
Interested in working in a Build to Rent scheme? Or, have a role that you need help with filling? Get in touch with James Gregory today for an informal chat.