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Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living


  1. Large-scale purpose-built shared living Sui Generis use developments, where of good quality and design, may have a role in meeting housing need in London if, at the neighbourhood level, the development contributes to a mixed and inclusive neighbourhood, and it meets all the following criteria:
    1. it meets an identified need
    2. it is located in an area well-connected to local services and employment by walking, cycling and public transport, and its design does not contribute to car dependency
    3. it is under single management
    4. its units are all for rent with minimum tenancy lengths of no less than three months
    5. communal facilities and services are provided that are sufficient to meet the requirements of the intended number of residents and include at least:
      1. convenient access to a communal kitchen
      2. outside communal amenity space (roof terrace and/or garden)
      3. internal communal amenity space (dining rooms, lounges)
      4. laundry and drying facilities
      5. a concierge
      6. community management
      7. bedding and linen changing and/or room cleaning services.
    6. the private units provide adequate functional living space and layout, and are demonstrably not C3 Use Class accommodation
    7. a management plan is provided with the application
    8. it delivers a cash in lieu contribution towards conventional C3 affordable housing. Boroughs should seek this contribution for the provision of new C3 off-site affordable housing as either an:
      1. upfront cash in lieu payment to the local authority, or
      2. in perpetuity annual payment to the local authority
  2. In both cases developments are expected to provide a contribution that is equivalent to 35 per cent of the residential units to be provided at a discount of 50 per cent of the market rent. If a lower contribution is proposed the scheme will be subject to the Viability Tested Route set out in part E of Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications.

This policy applies to large-scale purpose-built shared living developments which in planning terms are Sui Generis non-self contained market housing. These are not restricted to particular groups by occupation or specific need such as students, nurses or people requiring temporary or emergency accommodation proposed by speciality providers.

Development proposals for such schemes should only be supported where they meet an identified market need.

To qualify as large-scale purpose-built shared living, the development, or block or phase within a development must be of at least 50 units. This type of accommodation is seen as providing an alternative to traditional flat shares and includes additional services and facilities, such as room cleaning, bed linen, on-site gym and concierge service. To ensure this form of accommodation is meeting its specific housing need, it is important that it does not effectively become a hostel, so tenancies should be for a minimum of three months.

A management plan must be produced and submitted with the planning application showing how the whole development will be managed and maintained to ensure the continued quality of the accommodation, communal facilities and services, and that it will positively integrate into the surrounding communities. The agreed management plan should be secured through a Section 106 agreement and should include, but not be limited to, detailed information on:

  1. security and fire safety procedures
  2. move in and move out arrangements
  3. how all internal and external areas of the development will be maintained
  4. how communal spaces and private rooms will be cleaned and how linen changing services will operate
  5. how deliveries for servicing the development and residents’ deliveries will be managed
  6. on-site staff and their responsibilities
  7. with reference to the on-site staff, what internal community events will take place and how the surrounding community will be engaged.

It is important within a large-scale purpose-built shared living development to create a sense of community. Buildings should be designed and managed in a way that lowers barriers to social interaction and encourages engagement between people:

  • incidental meeting spaces should be provided in public and semi-public spaces within the building
  • communal kitchen spaces should be designed for social interaction, such as shared kitchens with cooking stations facing each other 
  • amenity spaces should be of a size and quality that actively encourages their use and community engagement
  • where appropriate, entrance lobbies and public amenities such as restaurants and bars should encourage use by the surrounding local community as well as the internal community
  • an on-site community manager should help to organise events to encourage social interaction between residents.

The private units should be appropriately sized to be comfortable and functional for a tenant’s needs and may include facilities such as en-suite bathrooms and kitchenettes. There are currently no minimum space standards for these units. Given the generally small size of the private space in these developments, the communal amenity spaces are important elements in ensuring the quality of the overall residential amenity is acceptable. If deemed necessary, the Mayor will produce planning guidance, including space standards, for this form of accommodation.

This form of accommodation is required to contribute to affordable housing. However, because it does not meet minimum housing space standards and generally consists of bedrooms rather than housing units, it is not considered suitable as a form of affordable housing itself. Therefore, a financial contribution is required for affordable housing provided through the borough’s affordable housing programme.

A borough can decide whether it would prefer the financial contribution as a single upfront payment for affordable housing (part A8a of Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living), which will be based on a 50 per cent discount to market value of 35 per cent of the units[62], or an ongoing in perpetuity payment linked to actual rental income (part A8b of Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living). The ongoing payment should be based on 50 per cent of rental income for 35 per cent of units for as long as the development is used for this form of accommodation. If these affordable housing contribution requirements are not met, the scheme will be considered under the Viability Tested Route in line with part E of Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications and the Mayor’s Affordable Housing and Viability SPG.

[62] Evidence of the market value of the shared living units will need to be provided under the Fast Track Route to enable the upfront payment to be calculated.

The rental cost of this form of accommodation is not directly comparable to the rental costs of conventional Use Class C3 housing as units are significantly smaller than the minimum housing space standard i.e. a one person dwelling of 37 sqm. If a comparison is undertaken it should be on a square metre rental rate of the private accommodation and not a unit rental rate.