We caught up with our Chief Executive Martin Skinner ahead of Fabrick’s grand opening in January. We asked him about micro homes, Cheadle Hulme and Fabrick’s radical transformation from a derelict office to stylish new homes.
Sure – Fabrick is a brand new micro-apartment scheme in Cheadle Hulme in Greater Manchester, our first in the north. The development comprises 184 one and two bedroom apartments with a rooftop terrace and residents’ lounge. The name stems from the area’s fabric and brickmaking heritage.
In terms of our model, the rationale is to develop private homes that are affordable to first-time buyers and young professional renters on average incomes. Our smallest apartments are 40% smaller than a typical new-build apartment but cost around 25% less simply because they’re smaller. This helps buyers, who would otherwise be priced out of the market, to get a foot on the property ladder as well as renters looking to save money on a high spec home in a central location.
The building was left derelict for some time and the opportunity came up to purchase it. Cheadle Hulme is a fantastic little commuter town that ticks a lot of boxes for us. There are quirky independent pubs, restaurants and cafes such as the Chiverton Tap and Platform 5 – it’s just 10 minutes to Manchester Piccadilly by train and it takes just as long to get to Manchester Airport by car where a new £1bn Airport City business district is being built.
Sim Chem House, as it was called at the time, had been left empty since 2009 when it was last occupied by the engineering consultancy Simon Carves. The internals have been demolished just leaving the concrete frame. We installed a new roof to support a rooftop terrace and the basement was transformed into a residents’ lounge. Visually, the building has been completely transformed with a new facade featuring new windows, blue and grey rendered cladding and feature brickwork. Inside are six floors of high spec one and two bedroom apartments.
We often incorporate shared social spaces at our micro-apartment schemes. These offer additional space for residents where they can work/ play and get to know their neighbours. The residents’ lounge at Fabrick is being flexibly designed so it can be a co-working space by day or set up for music events or stand-up comedy in evenings and weekends if residents so desire. We are currently finalising proposals for the terrace – residents will enjoy far reaching views over beautiful Cheshire countryside. We will also have a 7am to 11pm 365 day-a-year concierge.
The apartments range from 30 to 38 square metres for a one bed and 49 to 57 square metres for a two bed. They benefit from a high specification including engineered hardwood flooring in the kitchen/ living areas, handleless kitchen units with granite worktops and integrated Bosch appliances, designer bathrooms with large format floor and wall tiles, Nest smart thermostats and 1 Gig Hyperoptic broadband.
We hope that space standards will be relaxed so that new-build micro-apartment schemes can be built. The government did promise to review them in their 2017 housing white paper, but the revolving door for housing ministers prevented it from getting much traction. Currently, the only way to build smaller homes is through office-to-residential permitted development conversions.
We’ve proven that there’s demand for micro-apartments and public support too. Our YouGov survey revealed that 71% of Brits would allow 30 square metre micro-apartments to be built. Also, a new policy on large-scale purpose-built shared living, otherwise known as co-living, was proposed in the draft London Plan. This is a private-rented micro concept typically in the form of en-suite cluster rooms, either self-contained with kitchenettes or sharing kitchen/ living areas, together with communal facilities such as club lounges, concierge and sometimes bars, cinemas and even libraries. Earlier this year, with our help, the British Property Federation (BPF) published the first industry-recognised definition for micro-living, so there has been a lot of progress. I’m confident that micro will become an important part of the government’s housing strategy, especially if they’re going to meet their housing targets.
Doors will open to Fabrick’s first residents in January. Prices start at £135,000. Call the sales team on 020 8688 6552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.