Essential Living unveils plans for UK’s first office-to-resi rental block

London-based Essential Living has unveiled designs for its first office-to-residential rented housing scheme in the heart of Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The plans, submitted last week to the council, would see Berkshire House, a 12-storey office building transformed into a striking centrepiece for the town centre.

Essential Living, which has $200million in backing from M3 Capital Partners, a real estate investment and advisory firm, is the UK’s first institutionally-backed firm set up specifically to design, build and manage rented homes. They plan to deliver 5,000 units over the next decade across London and the South East.

Essential Living has teamed up with ADZ Architects to design what is hoped could be the standard-bearer for future market rent developments across the UK.

The striking external design features a stainless steel mesh-like frame wrapped around a glass and steel building in an egg-shaped expression. The overhaul is a far cry from the 1960s concrete block, which currently blights the town centre now.

Together with its excellent transport links – amplified by the completion of Crossrail in 2018 – Maidenhead has become a growing hub for global tech firms. Giants like Three, Hitachi and Adobe employ hundreds locally, and it is hoped that this emerging pool of businesses will drive demand for rental and a growing resurgence for the Berkshire economy.

Nearby Reading and Newbury were among the top districts in a Google-funded report on the digital economy published last month by Growth Intelligence and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

The designs being unveiled include 68 units ranging from spacious studio apartments to larger two bedroom units which are specifically designed for the private rented sector. Facilities within the building comprise a ‘club-lounge’ and terrace at the top of the tower where residents can socialise together and capitalise on views, a top-range gym, two office/meeting rooms and second floor landscaped communal amenity area. There will also be a 24-hour concierge reflecting Essential Living’s ambition to create a service-led culture in rental.

The revamped Berkshire House will be one of the first UK blocks designed for renting from the ground up. Built to investment grade quality, it will feature a host of on-site amenities, as part of Essential Living’s ambition to transform renting into a lifestyle choice, rather than a stop-gap to ownership.

It is not the only 1960s office block the company is looking to transform. North London’s Archway Tower was also acquired last month with similar plans to overhaul a defunct, vacant office block into premium quality housing.

Nick Cuff, Development Manager at Essential Living, said:

“Maidenhead is a great place with fantastic connections to London and a vibrant local economy mixing local entrepreneurs with international brands. This hotbed of future growth is an ideal platform for our new model of delivering quality rental homes. We are very much looking forward to further developing our plans with the community and delivering a stand out residential scheme that will continue to define Maidenhead’s regeneration.”

Zsolt Moldán, from ADZ Architects, said:

“Berkshire House is located in the heart of Maidenhead and yet it is currently one of the ugliest buildings in town.

“Our designs ensure that the building is ideally suited to long-term renters who are looking for comfort, good service and great design while transforming Berkshire House into the most stylish and desirable address in town.”