|Bringing people back
Boris Johnson has already indicated that he is keen to overhaul the UK’s planning laws – perhaps easing the way for such ‘repurposed’ development – and has brought several former think tank specialists into No 10 to draft a new scheme by the end of the year. One of these, the Social Market Foundation, says that any plans to revitalise the high street with a new breed of shops is not the right solution.
Instead, in its New life for the High Street report, it suggests turning them into residential hubs, thus creating more than 800,000 homes. At a conservative estimate, it claims this represents just 5% of commercial land being released for residential use.
Of course there are challenges, planning permission aside. No one wants to feel like they are walking through a shop or office to get to their front door, so entrances and exits must be carefully thought out. Stairways, lifts, parking, security and so on are all important issues that must be considered and factored in to any plans.
People will want their residential space to be separate and discrete from any commercial operation, just as a business owner will not want to feel overlooked by private individuals.
Safety and fire regulations are also clearly vital, and any renovations must incorporate these in their designs.