The concept of ‘wellness’ is one trend that has really struck a chord with Grainger and our customers. It influences how we are designing and operating our buildings.

Helen Gordon

Our BTR specification includes gyms and communal spaces and our recent development at Argo Apartments in Canning Town provides a roof terrace, gym and virtual fitness studio for residents.

In the context of the growing funding pressures on our health service and an increased awareness of how we can improve our physical and mental health, build-to-rent can have a significant positive impact.

Social isolation has long been recognised as a key trigger for mental illness and with one in four adults experiencing mental health problems this year, there are a number of campaigns raising awareness of the benefits that social interaction can bring.

Today’s BTR schemes are all about interacting with neighbours and our data shows that creating this sense of community encourages tenancy renewals and lowers costly voids.

Secure long-term tenancies that allow you to put down roots in your community and to build relationships with fellow residents are strongly linked to improved mental health.

There are opportunities for residents to improve their physical health, with BTR operators providing amenity spaces such as gyms, wellness spaces, cycle storage and outdoor communal areas.

There is also growing evidence that renters understand the value of such amenities. Recent research from Saint-Gobain found that 27% of renters would pay more to live in a home that supports their health and wellbeing, while the 2018 Tenant Survey from LSL and PRSim suggested 50% of tenants would pay more – on average £16 a month – for an onsite gym.

Roof terrace, Argo

The roof terrace at Grainger’s Argo Apartments

The work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings highlights the health and cost benefits that can flow from building our homes to the highest levels of comfort and energy efficiency, considering a wide range of factors, from air quality to light levels.

The NHS Healthy New Towns initiative unites public health bodies, planners and developers to deliver healthier places and will demonstrate how using government land can return benefits to communities and the wider health system.

Grainger’s partnerships with local authorities in Kensington & Chelsea and Lewisham are an opportunity to bolster housing supply and provide good-quality homes for local people that both support the health and wellbeing of residents and provide additional income to invest in health and other local services.

In our Wellesley development in Aldershot, in collaboration with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, we are supporting the wellbeing of our residents and the community as a whole via a dedicated Grainger-employed community manager; an active residents’ association; and the provision of new amenities ranging from a community enterprise centre to the Wellesley Woodlands, an area that provides nature trails, social events and volunteering opportunities for local people.

As an industry, we know that buildings can contribute to the strategy of prevention over cure. What we must do now is gather better data to measure the health outcomes for BTR residents and understand exactly how the homes we provide can help people live even healthier lives.

Helen Gordon is chief executive of Grainger