Wandsworth Shared Living Development Approved Despite Social Distancing Concerns

The Collective accommodation has communal amenities and also includes hotel

CGI of The Collective Chatfield Road. Picture: Assael Architecture

April 24, 2020

An application for 182 shared living rooms and an 81 room hotel has been approved by Wandsworth Council, despite some concern from councillors about how these housing arrangements will work after coronavirus.

So-called shared or co-living rooms allow single people to pay for a private room with an en-suite bathroom and a kitchenette. They also have access to a large shared kitchen and other amenities.

It is seen as an alternative to traditional house sharing accommodation.

Labour councillor Tony Belton said while it is “too early to draw any conclusions” he worries about the viability of the building that relies on shared kitchens and living spaces.

“To make a start on an investment that will be there for 40 years, when we don’t know how it’s going to work out, when we’ve got other queries about it, is the real risk,” he said.

Applicants, The Collective, already run 1,250 shared living units across the capital and submitted a response to the council before the meeting, stating they are “adhering to all relevant health guidance and are putting in extensive measures to support residents.”

They said that these are still running at 90 per cent occupancy, and access to shared spaces is limited and controlled by a booking system to ensure social distancing

Cllr Belton also expressed concerns about over-development along the riverside, while fellow Labour councillor Peter Carpenter objected to the amount of affordable housing.

The building will be situated along the Lombard Road/York Road Riverside Focal Point, which is currently undergoing mass development.

Just 64 of the 182 shared living rooms have been identified as affordable.

However, Conservative councillor Hugh Byrne highlighted the need for this kind of housing arrangement in central London.

“It is next door to the new Royal College of Dance, the nearby Royal College of Art, so there is a demand for this type of product,” he said.

“I accept concerns along bulk and massing, but all along that strip of the river there are developments of this nature, so I think there are very few grounds for us to refuse this.”

The draft London plan recognises shared living as legitimate for single-person households.

The application received 38 objections from members of the public and two letters of support.

It was approved by seven votes to two.

Sian Bayley, Local Democracy reporter