Mixed-use developments: what does the future look like?

August 06, 2021

Shakespeare Martineau

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What does the future of mixed-use developments look like?

A mixed-use development traditionally comprises two or more main types of use such as residential, commercial or office space. In recent years, these developments have become increasingly popular, enlivening both the city centers and the city centers.

However, the pandemic has changed attitudes towards both housing and retail. How could this affect mixed-use developments in the future?

Changes to the design

The pandemic will undoubtedly change the way mixed-use spaces are designed. The concept that people’s homes are also their workspaces is a departure from the established norm and this should impact both home design and the environment in which people live.

People are discovering how teleworking can benefit them in the “new normal”. It offers flexibility and, in many cases, makes people feel more productive. However, there is a risk of social isolation and mental health management is becoming increasingly important. Mixed-use spaces play an important role in responding to changing work and life trends.

Requirements for the postponement

People’s physical and mental well-being should be at the forefront of mixed-use developments. It is important that they enable people to feel connected to society and community and to lead healthier and happier lives. A thoughtful approach to mixed use in response to emerging trends after the pandemic can provide this.

The specific elements of mixed-use development need careful consideration and should be tailored to the needs and aspirations of that community. Key questions might be: what is the use of anchors and what other uses can they support?

The pandemic has resulted in reduced traffic usage across the board. People would likely welcome this change in the long term if things like better public facilities, local shops and quality open space were “on their doorstep” and travel wasn’t so necessary.

Accelerate the inevitable

The pandemic has only accelerated the changes that are already imminent. Innovative advances in technology and communications have enabled remote working to thrive and businesses to weather the pandemic.

If COVID-19 had happened 10 years ago it would have been a whole different story and companies would have struggled to adapt and operate.

Online retailing was an integral part of people’s lives even before COVID-19. Now e-commerce is even more popular. The question for mixed use development is how to provide a retail offering that works with e-commerce and balances access to local stores and national brands.

Hospitality and leisure businesses will also be more represented in mixed-use settlements. Many restaurants, bars and pubs have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and also had to adapt. With a mixed-use environment in mind, factors such as outdoor seating have resulted in improved common spaces that foster a stronger connection between customers and the surrounding public space. This in turn helps to strengthen the bond between people and the community in which they live; a central goal of mixed use development.

The pandemic may have changed the priorities of both people and businesses, but ultimately these societal changes align with the goals of mixed-use developments. Taking into account the needs of the residents, these developments could continue to gain popularity in the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. Expert advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstances.

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