Located In the heart of Hayes, be:here Hayes is a multi-award-winning rental development of high quality homes with private gardens and outstanding communal spaces which opened its doors to the first residents on 1st February 2017. It was delivered by BTR developer Be at former EMI record label building in West London.
Senior Director Simon Chatfield has helped to develop solutions for the build-to-rent sector through his Be developments. Having worked in the development industry for over 30 years, he explains some of the company's thinking.
Build to Rent (BTR) is still a relatively new concept in the UK, what do you think is holding back the growth of the sector?
Be has been successful in building a pipeline of opportunities (2,500+ homes) however there is investment available for significantly more opportunities.
Finding suitable opportunities to meet this investor demand is holding back the sector and stopping significant growth. There is support from the Greater London Authority and government for the sector and an understanding of the benefits of purpose built, professionally managed homes. We need to build on this support to ensure that more opportunities and a pipeline is created to secure further investment.
The lack of decent rental homes has left a gap in the market, how can BTR developers change the way Londoners view rental accommodation?
By continuously asking residents what they want and doing our best to deliver it. We will keep evolving our offering, as we understand more and more about what our residents want. Once tenants realise that there is a new, different offer available we believe that Londoners will start to view their options differently.
You have worked in the development industry for over 30 years, what made you decide to move into the BTR sector?
I saw the BTR sector as an exciting opportunity to create something new and innovative for a section of the population that was being largely ignored by developers and other housing providers. My experience of creating communities and a focus on delivering homes people want to live in seemed a good fit for this emerging sector.
What was your inspiration for Be:here Hayes and the Be BTR concept?
To create a customer focussed offer for tenants based on what renters told us they wanted and an attractive opportunity for investors.
We sent out 8,000 surveys to renters and ran a series of focus groups where we sat down with renters and discussed what they wanted and how we might deliver it in detail. They told us what they liked about renting, what they wanted and did not want as well as how they would like their landlord to behave. This inspired us to create something that delivered something very different to the current Buy-to-Let landlords offer.
Why did you select Hayes as the location for one of Be's BTR sites?
We selected this site for a number of reasons:
- Excellent transport connectivity (which will only get better when Crossrail arrives in 2019) by both rail and road
- Being part of an exciting wider regeneration scheme - The Old Vinyl Factory - which will see a major new place emerge over the coming years. With offices, workspaces, leisure, restaurants, shops and a new school all created we see this as an exciting new place to live
- Connectivity to local employment e.g. with Heathrow and Stockley Park close by
- Proximity to the local services and amenities in Hayes town centre
How is Be:here Hayes changing Hayes itself?
It's too early to say but we think the wider Old Vinyl Factory development will create a great new community and a great place to live in Hayes. We are part of that growing community. The transport improvements provided by Crossrail will ensure that the transformation of Hayes will continue.
What do you think renters want today?
We are constantly working to understand what it is that tenants want and we regularly survey our tenants to ensure we stay in touch with changing aspirations.
In essence we believe the key things renters want are:
- Accommodation specifically designed for renting
- Superfast broadband
- A range of amenities and facilities such as gyms, roof gardens and shared spaces
- On-site management to look after them and the building
- High levels of customer service
- A sense of community with opportunities to get to know their neighbours
- Security to know they can stay as long as they want
In what ways do you feel that Be is meeting the demands of renters today?
I think one of the biggest ways we are meeting renter's demands is by delivering really good customer service.
This starts by us making the lettings process as easy as possible. Our online system provides renters with live information on the availability of units, access to photos and floor plans and enables them to reserve and complete their tenancy without the need to keep attending a letting agents office. In addition we don't charge lettings fees. The quickest we have done a letting is 48 hours!
Our focus on customer service ensures that once our tenants have moved in we are there to look after them and the building. We take in parcels, fix minor repairs as quickly as possible, make sure the common parts are clean and well looked after and build a sense of community.
What does the future hold for Be?
The future looks very exciting! We are getting to know our tenants better all the time so we can understand what we are doing well and improve the things we can do better.
We will be applying what we learn to our new developments and with two major site in Kew (350+ homes) and Barking (600+ homes) and a raft of other schemes we have the opportunity to create exciting new places for renting across London. In a few years' time hopefully there will be an opportunity for more and more London tenants to rent a home in a Be development.