UK property industry gets up CLOSE and personal with Build to Rent

UK property industry gets up CLOSE and personal with Build to Rent

Over 100 of the UK property industry’s finest, along with high profile provocateurs and enablers from other sectors, met at Dartmouth House, Mayfair yesterday for the inaugural CLOSE event.

Organised and hosted by Naomi Cleaver, design consultant, writer and broadcaster, together with Phillippa Hardman, Founder & MD of on-site gym and well-being consultancy RCH, CLOSE: Build to Rent & the New Community delivered a symposium on the emerging revolution in the way we live today.

“Build to Rent is a paradigm shift in the way we live today and as pressures on population and space grow, we find ourselves living in ever closer proximity with others. Build to Rent delivers one solution to our 21st century housing needs but I believe it’s critical that the needs and desires of those living within these newly created communities are thoroughly and sensitively studied through discourse at events such as CLOSE.”

Naomi Cleaver, Design Consultant, Writer & Broadcaster

 A series of carefully selected speakers took to the podium to share their views and experiences of Build to Rent and community. Below were their headline messages:

Debra Yudolph, Founder SAY Property Consulting: A survey of 1,000 people revealed the chasm in perception and attitude towards Build to Rent between the public and the industry.

Karl Kalcher, MD of MindFolio: Work needs to be done to address Build to Rent’s primary target audience, young professionals and millennials and their inherently negative view about renting.

Jenni Carbins, International Placemaking Strategist, Mark London: Investment in commercial spaces and public realm within Build to Rent developments is on the rise. Placemaking creates value for tenants and the bottom line.

Phillippa Hardman, Founder & MD, RCH: The UK is at the forefront of global wellness which is driving demand for onsite fitness & wellbeing facilities. Virtual training and group exercise are top trends.

James Lynch, Fforest: From art graduate Shoreditch property developer to advocate of living in the thick of nature, the built environment is only as potent as its place in nature.

Rev Alan Gyle, Vicar, St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge: Turns out that De La Soul were right, 3 is the magic number when it comes to community. Engaging in triadic discourse between investors, Build to Rent developers and tenants is key to creating for the needs of tomorrow.

Gerard Greene, CEO & Founder, Society: There is a very real absence of technology in Build to Rent yet it can be successfully used as an enabler for the creation of, and engagement in new societies.

Siobhan Frost, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Tee & Frost: Creation of a Build to Rent brand is more than just an attractive logo but a strategic process which should be engaged in from the very start.

Tim Lowe, Founder & Director, Lowe Guardians: The repurposing of vacant space in the heart of cities through guardian tenants offers a real solution to housing shortage and offers compelling lessons in creating genuine communities.

Peter York, Social Commentator & Author: The voice of reason – think beyond the ghastly marketing language of Build to Rent; creating communities is hard work! Oh and never include a laminate floor in a development, you’re only one step away from a prison.

Over cocktails and canapés in the courtyard afterwards, feedback was heartening:

“It is hard to think of an industry event that dares to treat the audience to such a spectrum of impressions, from the very tangible to the quite philosophical.”

Karl Kalcher, MindFolio Ltd

 “ Thoughtful and provocative. An imaginative, eclectic cast of speakers who have left me with a lot to think about. We need to have more conversations like this and then put these great ideas into practice.”

Andrei Popovici, Real estate developer, UK & US

 “Brave and stimulating. We in the construction and property industry need to connect with the people we are designing and building homes and CLOSE was truly mind expanding.”

 Nick Riley, Whittam Cox Architects

 For more information on CLOSE: Build to Rent & The New Community, key takeaways, the speakers and details of the next event, please contact Naomi Cleaver on or visit Phillippa Hardman on 020 8789 9600 or visit