Andrew Reavley looks at why mixed use is increasingly popular in the capital
With competitive pressure on available land and an increasingly limited supply, an innovative and forward thinking approach is required when considering urban development sites. This is particularly prevalent in London where values allow different uses to compete for the same plots of land.
The solution is often a mixed use approach; however value is not the sole driver. Increasingly planners and local authorities see the need to resolve local and national housing targets by stipulating residential content as a key component of development. Equally, office and residential developers see the benefit of complimentary retail and leisure uses to animate and activate public areas. Lunson Mitchenall is currently advising on this type of high density approach at the Lewisham Gateway development in Lewisham and the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in SE1.
However, it is imperative that adequate forethought is given as to how the uses interact. To set the correct calibre of retail and restaurant uses, the space needs to be designed from the outset and not shoe-horned into whatever is left.
Increasingly operators are not prepared to concede on servicing strategies, customer experience, floor to ceiling heights and comprised layouts.
Setting the right tenant mix tone at ground floor can add significant value to the upper parts whether they be office or residential. At the higher end this is self-explanatory; there is no better example than the McLaren garage beneath the Candy and Candy No.1 Hyde Park development. This would be less relevant to a student housing block in Acton, where a Tesco Express or Nandos might be more appropriate.
Combining uses in a complimentary way may not always be the most efficient form of development if the individual uses are looked at in isolation. However, when a more composite view is taken and other issues such as public transport integration, place setting and urban realm are incorporated into the design, mixed-use development can provide interesting and valuable long term solutions.