Market Opportunities and Challenges Post COVID-19
Revo and Urban Development
Authors: John Percy, Chair of UDC, and Andrew Ogg, Consultant Architect, Revo Past President and member of UDC.
We have a standing item on the agenda of the Urban Development Committee ‘Market Conditions’, we often debate pace of change, but when we last sat in February, little could we imagine a situation where (with the exception of a few retailers) every shopping centre is closed.
Now the pace of change from the continued growth of online retail, reduction in space requirements and consolidation has been brought into stark focus and will only increase.
As a group the Urban Development Committee look at medium to longer term opportunities and challenges in the market, and given that the current hiatus will have long term effect, we thought it would be helpful to share the themes discussed within our committee which we feel will impact on urban development.
Landlords and retailers will have to be exceptionally proactive in bringing in social distancing measures, with additional customer service, staff and signage to create an environment within shopping centres which is both safe and has the confidence of shoppers, and which will need to extend to car parking, lift protocols, washroom facilities, staff training and hygiene regimes. In High Streets and open centres this will be easier to achieve, but in covered centres will be critical to restore sustainability of these assets in the short to medium term.
Hospitality and culture will be slower to recover where it cannot deliver a safe environment with lower customer density or greater use of outdoor space.
Revo has now issued a Guidance Note ‘Getting Ahead – Considerations for Exiting Lockdown’.
The rapid adjustment of businesses to home working and online conference and meeting arrangements is promoting a short-term growth in ‘shop local’ with positive experience which is seeing many local stores and farm shops moving quickly to incorporate online delivery.
We are likely to see a continuation of a trend toward working from home for at least part of the working week, therefore the amount of customers available to local shops, may trigger a boost to the local high street for the right products.
The right products, and a local badge may further be enhanced by the trend toward more sustainable products and shopping.
Continuation of Mixed Uses
Falling rents and vacant space creates opportunities (and the necessity) to diversify and incorporate other uses more effectively into centres such as residential, offices, civic, arts and medical uses. The trend toward local could also extend to more decentralised offices, and certainly the need for local hot desking hubs.
Relaxation of planning use class restrictions could be possible and encouraged. The Revo planning working group will be continuing to explore this alongside other lobbying.
Housing proposals may not be impacted so much, and the need for housing will not abate. Previously proposed apartment schemes, and in particular PD schemes will need to be revisited in terms of access to outdoor areas and open space which are likely to be given greater emphasis by consumers and legislation.
Local Authorities continue to need to be proactive and flexible, recognising the NPPF guidance to encourage centres to adapt and diversify. The work Revo has done on the development ‘Route Map’ for Local Authority partnerships is designed to facilitate this. We will be further working on this Route Map to ensure we can continue to assist in illustrating best practice. Members and others are invited to submit any joint venture arrangements that they would like to share with the industry as examples of success.
Revo is driving the agenda and continues to work with government on the key issues of business rates, the possibility of a ‘furlough space grant scheme’, ‘safer opening proposals’, and issues through our participation in the High Streets Task Force.
At Revo, we support the people and businesses involved in the diverse world of retail property and placemaking to thrive and prosper. Get in touch to find out more.
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