Experience of the pandemic has taught us many things, but the importance of our health and wellbeing, and that of our family and friends, sits front and centre. Many people are now recognising the importance and need to focus on their physical and mental health and the importance of the impact of our environment on our health.
When looking for a new home, amenities and services that affect our wellbeing are likely to take on a greater level of importance, particularly regarding access to the outdoors and green space, something we at Grainger have been focused on.
Despite reports of an exodus from the city to the country and a rise in searches for moves out to the suburbs, our enquiries for city-centre locations remain at pre-Covid levels. Many of our residents and target audience still want to continue with city living because it best fulfils their lifestyle needs.
Health and wellbeing has been a core element of Grainger’s investment strategy for some years. All our build-to-rent developments offer a gym and/or fitness space to make working out more convenient for residents. And our communal spaces, indoor and outdoor, are well used for yoga and Pilates sessions.
We also consider the WalkScore of our properties – a measure of how walkable a location is to local amenities. Our development pipeline has an average WalkScore of 89/100 or “very walkable”.
Meanwhile, we are reviewing our development specification against wellbeing-related building certifications Fitwel and Home Quality Mark, to identify further opportunities to support residents’ wellbeing. Outdoor space, gardens, balconies and terraces have also been prioritised in our design.
We want to build relationships with our residents so that we can better support them
Our three most recent launches, Brook Place in Sheffield, Solstice Apartments in Milton Keynes and Millet Place at Pontoon Dock, East London, all have outdoor terraces, landscaped courtyards and a large park on their doorstep. At Millet Place, residents enjoy direct views of the Thames Barrier Park from their balconies.
We don’t build houses, we build homes and communities. During lockdown, our resident services teams created buddy systems to check that residents were okay. We want to build relationships with our residents so that we can better understand their needs and better support them. Creating a stress-free rental experience is an important element of Grainger’s offering, with our onsite team offering a helping hand and friendly face.
Our buildings are designed to encourage natural interaction between residents, complemented by social events hosted by our team (virtually in many cases at present), so residents never feel lonely or unsupported. The sense of community we are aiming for has brought a great camaraderie in recent months, with residents supporting each other and those in need within the local community.
This time last year I was preparing for ‘Steptober’, charity LandAid’s real estate industry challenge that sees property professionals put their steps to good use to help end youth homelessness. Grainger is sponsoring the investor, developer and fund manager leaderboard for this year’s Steptober – a great opportunity for the industry to get behind this wonderful cause, while getting fit in the process.
Helen Gordon is chief executive of Grainger