Meet the developer: Reza Merchant from The Collective

Mon 26th September 2016, 5:17 pm

Sitematch London met with the CEO of The Collective, Reza Merchant, to discuss his company and its activities.

Could you provide a bit of background on The Collective?

The Collective's mission is to unlock the world's greatest cities for the creative and ambitious. We do this by operating and/or owning and developing Co-Living schemes, a form of housing in which residents not only share a physical space, but also a set of ideas, interests and values. We see this form of housing as an exciting solution that can cater to the housing needs of 18 to 35 year olds. Our accommodation features all-inclusive services and premium facilities to make our residents feel right at home and looked after.

What are some of the key projects the company is involved in?

We have recently delivered the world's largest co-living building in Old Oak, which consists of 546 units and beds. We are due to start construction on a site in Canary Wharf soon, which will be even larger – at 706 units – and we are also due to submit for planning permission on a site in Stratford in the coming months.

What sets The Collective apart from other developers?

Other than our very innovative form of housing, one of the key factors that sets us apart from other developers is how closely we work with the local authorities and local community groups. We get heavily involved with both in order to deliver a product that is best suited to the immediate community. We ultimately want to develop schemes that the locals can truly benefit from, even if they are not Collective members/residents.

What are some of the qualities you look for in local authorities when deciding if you want to work with them?

We are open to working with all local authorities and welcome new interactions. That said, given our product is so different to that which local authorities have seen before, it is obviously most beneficial for us if we can see that a local authority takes a flexible and innovative approach to housing.  

What should the public sector in London do to increase the construction of affordable homes?

I would suggest three measures:

Reducing the borrowing costs of housing associations to the same level as national government could save as much as £900 million on interest payments – money that could go towards investment in affordable homes.

Introduce a "Help to Build" scheme for local builders who build affordable homes. Small and medium sized builders are really struggling to access development finance. A help to build guarantor would remove some of the risk involved when lending to these companies.

3. Ease planning legislation. Planning is currently such a slow, cumbersome, expensive and bureaucratic process. 

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