In This Issue [August 2009]
The Sunday Times reports on the UKs growing self storage trend
Kevin Dowling from The Sunday Times reports on what has led to the growth in demand for self storage in the UK
The shrinking size of Britain’s “rabbit-hutch” homes has driven householders to use self-storage units as extra rooms.
The anonymous looking buildings are now home to walk-in wardrobes, games rooms, rehearsal stages and martial arts suites rather than simply being dumps for surplus clutter.
The trend is the next stage in the growth of self-storage, which has boomed as homes shrink and possessions multiply.
There are now an estimated 750 sites, with an extra 2m sq ft added in the past year alone. Instead of being stranded on out-of-town industrial estates, the new versions are positioned on convenient, city-centre sites with 24-hour access.
Neil Riding, chief operating officer of Safestore, one of the biggest operators, said people hiring “spare rooms” were increasingly important to his business.
“In one of our Manchester stores we have a customer who practises martial arts in the space he hires from us,” said Riding.
“The lifestyle side of our business is becoming more important to us. In the US, there is a storage unit on nearly every street corner, so we can see pretty clearly where we are headed.”
Sara Silva, 27, a bookkeeper, lives in a one-bedroom flat with her boyfriend in northwest London and hires space from Access self storage which she uses as a games room with a snooker table, chess table and cards table.
She pays £700 a month for a basic room of 50ft by 30ft. “It’s within 10 minutes of my home and I go there with my friends around four times a week,” Silva said. “Sometimes we take along some food and drinks but mostly we just play.”
Graham Godfrey, a 24-year-old west London jazz musician, has installed soundproofing in his unit to create a rehearsal space. “My flatmates wouldn’t put up with me playing drums at home,” he said.
A report last week by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment said new British homes often had barely enough room for proper furniture or even a microwave.
Other research has found they are the smallest in Europe, with an average floor space of 818 sq ft, compared with 1,200 sq ft in France.
Source: www.timesonline.co.uk August 2009
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