Scheme on site occupied by Sports Direct is part of strategy to re-use retail space 

London developer Viewranks Estates has won permission for a 200-room co-living development in the heart of Kingston upon Thames.

The permission, on the site of a former cinema now occupied by PC World and Sports Direct, will include a restaurant on the ground floor with co-living rooms above.

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Co-living is the term for housing where renters live in private rooms designed around shared communal facilities.

Each room in the scheme will have en-suite bathroom facilities and a kitchenette, with a large catering kitchen, gym and lounge all shared. The scheme is to be operated and managed by Nineyards Living, a start-up co-living specialist.

Assael Architecture, the scheme’s designer, said its proposals responded to Kingston council’s town centre strategy, which is designed to inject activity into the area as the amount of retail floor space required reduces.

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Tim Chapman-Cavanagh, director at Assael Architecture, said the scheme had been made even more relevant given the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis. He added: “Up and down the country, we’re seeing the decline of the traditional high street, and although we designed Nineyards pre-covid, the past seven months has only accelerated this trend.”

Richard Beim, managing director of Viewranks Estates, said the scheme was the first of three co-living accommodation projects the developer had in the pipeline. “We’re delighted that our first and flagship development for Nineyards Living has been given the green light,” he said.

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