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Retail into residential on the high street

Place-making for both the future high street and for new urban developments was a theme for Future Cities Forum at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, and this covered turning department stores and other retail premises into new homes.

Head of National Planning at Cushman & Wakefield, Ian Anderson (featured in the video clip at our forum above) commented that the government priority number one two and three on home front is delivery on housing, but there is a lot of inertia still with people holding on to vacant property:

'We won't be going back to the old view of the high street where it was just a place to shop. There is a bigger danger, however, that we slip into a one size fits all mentality. Planning is good at being retrospective but less good at forward planning and innovation. Residential has a role to play in the future high street, but it is more important that town centres work at their USP.'

Andrew Cobden, Managing Director of the UK arm of European developer Vastint Services has been working on creating new USP's for three distinctive regeneration sites, the old Tetley Brewery site in Leeds, a Cardiff light industrial site by the River Taff and in East London at Sugar House Island. Andrew explained: 'Sugar House Island was a disused industrial area, that had not benefited from the nearby 2012 Olympics. Our aim has been to make Sugar House island a truly mixed use development, but I think city fringe sites need to have a proper balance between residential and other uses. as this provides a sustainable economic base line. We have a 60 / 40 residential-commercial split with a hotel, and we also decided to bring forward a school. as we have 40 % family units. Add in a decent gym and a small cinema and you suddenly create place that people will come to.'

Head of Regeneration at the London Borough of Redbridge, Sharon Strutt: said that Redbridge had rejected new schemes which did not offer enough social housing but agreed about the need for balance: 'Trends in retail are changing, and we are aware that our main high street (Ilford) is going to shorten - we are lucky that the Exchange shopping area trades pretty well, but we need to allow more space for mixed use housing and more work space . Our enterprising small and micro business culture is flourishing and we need to allow these to operate in the town centre.'

Please watch Sharon Strutt speaking in the video clip below:

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