Packaged Living’s Development Manager lays out how to create successful and sustainable Build to Rent communities

Having trained and qualified as an Architect, I join the Packaged Living team with a passion to create well designed homes with people at the forefront. I appreciate the value of great design and would like to bring my experience to help shape Packaged Living developments.

With the UK seeing huge growth in the Build to Rent sector, bringing forward the right building in the right location will continue to not only attract investors but help to foster thriving Build to Rent Communities. As we find ourselves in unprecedented times, being a part of a communitive collective feels more important than ever and is something which is very much at the heart of our developments.

In a time of reflection, I would like to share my thoughts on what I think are the foundations for creating successful and sustainable Build to Rent communities.

Supporting localism

Our Build to Rent developments aim to support local living, they are designed for local people with affordable rents. Many of our developments will have a commercial offering at ground floor and we are keen for these spaces to be let to small independent businesses. We would also invite local business into the building to support our amenity offering for residents such as yoga classes, well-being sessions or pop-up coffee carts. The single ownership of associated public realm means that there is an opportunity for the external space to facilitate a whole host of pop up community events and initiatives, for residents and the wider community.

There are also opportunities for Build to Rent developments to support wider mixed use city centre regeneration and placemaking. We are working with adjacent landowners to help create a new neighbourhood in Manchester, Picadilly East. Our Build to Rent development sits within a larger masterplan bringing forward a new public space, hotel and homes just a short walk from the new HS2 station.

Fostering a sense of community

At the very heart of our Build to Rent developments is a strong community collective, facilitated through the design of our buildings and how they are operated. A single main entrance lobby which all residents pass through promotes social interaction; this is supported by an extensive amenity offering for residents to enjoy such as resident lounges, gyms and external roof terraces. Organised events, from social barbeques to quiz nights, give residents the opportunity to interact and socialise. These can be promoted through a resident app and online notice boards that all residents can access.

Offering a good variety of apartment types and sizes is key to ensuring that there is a mixed demographic within the development. With individuals, couples and families living under one roof, this helps to build a more sustainable community and social opportunities abound. We are finding that our developments are also attractive to older residents who are looking to downsize and want the convenience of town centre locations.

We are also keen to ensure that our buildings are integrated into the wider community. In Milton Keynes we have worked closely with the Town Council and local artists Boyd & Evans, to bring forward a community space within the ground floor of our building. The space will facilitate pop up community events and initiatives such as live music, performances and art exhibitions.

Customer experience

Technology is at the forefront of our buildings with operational efficiencies achieved through automated building processes. This is key in our developments as it means we are able to provide seamless customer service and ensure maximum convenience for residents.

Our Build to Rent developments will offer hassle-free living to residents by providing a number of services such as flexible rolling leases or on-site zip cars for residents to book a car for the weekend. These services will be managed both digitally through our resident app, as well as by on-site Property Managers offering face-to-face help for residents.

Back of house spaces are also hugely important to the operational success of our buildings. It is key that these areas are designed with dedicated loading bays for residents moving in and out, as well as parcel drop off points and storage spaces to meet ever-growing demand for online shopping. Future proofing and adapting to these trends will be key – how long until we see drone deliveries becoming the new normal?

Amenity offering

Our buildings are very focused on resident lifestyle and we want to offer amenities that not only cater to resident needs but facilitate the building as an asset for investors. This means balancing what the facility adds to the community vs operational costs.

We want residents to feel as if they are renting the whole building and they will have access to a range of amenity spaces, such as lounge areas, co-working spaces and gyms. The health and well-being of our residents is hugely important, and this can be improved through well-designed external spaces. Landscaped roof terraces are provided in all our developments and these will offer amazing views overlooking city centres skylines.

Ensuring amenity spaces can adapt to future demand is key for future proofing our developments. We would like to encourage resident feedback and input so that the buildings can adapt and reflect how residents want to live.

Through ensuring the foundations of localism, community collective, customer experience and value-added amenities are at the heart of all our developments, we can continue to foster sustainable Build to Rent communities.


Sophie Gunn

Development Manager

Packaged Living