A hot topic on many local authority agendas for this year will be the regeneration of their town centres. The way we shop, eat and work is ever changing, and our town centres need to be ready to accommodate a more diverse and flexible way of life. A lifestyle not necessarily brought on by, but certainly expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year could see a rise in developments focusing on:
- Warehousing for retail distribution
- Student housing
- Flexible workspaces
- Residential units in town centres.
Town centre regeneration projects can be seen all along the UK’s South Coast. Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch have committed to regenerating parts of their central towns with a focus on upscaling existing buildings into new and flexible office spaces, as well as driving a resurgence towards central town residential living.
Similarly, both Portsmouth and Southsea have seen some of their historic buildings being developed into hotels, apartments, cinemas and 24/7 gyms. And, with the volume of dedicated student housing that the city now has, the level of repurposing student housing into homes for families is increasing, bringing with it the consequential improvement of the area’s amenities. This shift is also reflected in Southampton and Bournemouth.
Using existing premises seems to be a common theme for developers in regeneration projects, however, some development proposals look to erect entirely new modern structures. Whilst modern buildings can be appealing in terms of aesthetics and energy efficiency, often the ‘upcycling’ of our towns’ existing infrastructure is met with less opposition by local residents and seeks to retain some of an area’s history and architectural culture.
Community-building and leisure and recreational space is once again a paramount consideration when local councils contemplate regeneration. The preservation of green spaces and developing new green and blue spaces – areas featuring surface waterbodies or watercourses - is also a prevalent theme in many new development proposals. This, alongside the technological advancements available, could transform towns along the South Coast into new bustling community hubs.
It remains to be seen how our towns and cities will look in the years to come and it will be interesting to see what future regeneration projects are in the pipeline for 2022 and how the South Coast will both look and feel come the end of the year.