Why Mixed-Use Developments Are a Must for Our Sustainable Future; REGENERATION

Article excerpt

Developers and investors should support more mixed-use developments in city centres as they offer opportunities through good architecture and urban design for an improved quality of life for all - and help to promote more sustainable communities.

So says David Greenhill, an architect at leading Midlands practice BBLB Architects.

Some developers and investors have avoided mixed-use developments because there is a long-held misconception that they can be capital intensive, complex to deliver and too costly.

But, according to Mr Greenhill, this does not have to be the case if a scheme is well designed and the issues are managed from the outset.

"There are constraints that do have to be considered, but the benefits of creating a rich, inclusive and diverse sustainable community are so overwhelming, that these far outweigh any disadvantages," he says.

He points to some surveys that indicate mixed-use buildings marginally outperform single-use ones.

For instance, recent research by CB Richard Ellis in 2006 identified a point when high-rise mixed buildings became more profitable than single-use office towers.

"Developers will always consider the bottom line and positive research such as this is to be welcomed if it helps them reconsider mixed use as a more viable option," says Mr Greenhill.

"Planners in Birmingham have been among the first to realise the benefits and established mixed-use developments around Brindleyplace and Mailbox illustrate this well.

"They have built-in adaptability and good active surveillance at both day and night - and that serves them well in quickly changing markets"

It is not just obvious community benefits that should be considered, argues Mr Greenhill. The environmental benefits are now much more relevant.

"If people can work, live and play in the same area, then there is less distance to travel and a reduction in car pollution is real benefit to the environment," he says.

"Mixed-use developments are not without challenges, as building different facilities on one site will always create more constraints during both the construction and the in-use phases. …