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Neighbourhood centres: the way forward


20th April 2020

Ground-breaking new report from Stephen George + Partners provides the key to the successful delivery of neighbourhood centres

Recognition for the importance of the neighbourhood centre as a focal point for residential developments is growing. However, where traditional neighbourhood centres used to mean retail, there is a developing shift towards a mix of uses, including residential, workspace, healthcare and other community facilities, according to a new report from Stephen George + Partners (SGP).

Despite the importance of these vital community hubs, there is often a lack of evidence and agreement on what does and does not work. To address some of these issues, SGP earlier this year assembled an expert panel from across the property industry, each of whom perform a role in the realisation of neighbourhood centres at the heart of new residential developments and urban extensions. Panels were formed of three roundtables where they discussed key issues such as meeting stakeholder expectations, adding commercial and social value to the process, as well as the future legacy and governance of centres.

The resulting report makes for essential reading for all parties involved in the planning, development, management and legacy of neighbourhood centres. The report is also timely: the shift towards a mix of uses for the neighbourhood centre has largely been driven by an increased reliance from residents on online shopping, as well as changing work and lifestyle patterns. However, the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic may see those changes accelerated.

Ian Yallop, Chairman, SGP comments: “Whilst our panels were conducted just prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible to theorise that both the financial impacts of the outbreak and the resulting changes in the way we live, work, shop and communicate will further influence the nature of the neighbourhood centre and its mix of uses going forward.

“However, regardless of the mix of uses, one key theme that emerged from our roundtables remains the same: the need for early engagement and collaboration. Understanding what the demand is for those different uses from the beginning and ensuring that the neighbourhood centre is relevant to the scale of the residential development is key to its success. Early engagement is also essential to placemaking and creating real lasting social value for the neighbourhood centre.

“Often, this will entail working from the bottom up, bringing together community groups, developers and councils to achieve a consensus about the neighbourhood centre and finely tuning it to the needs of the local community. Understanding the ownership and legacy from the beginning is equally critical.”

SGP is therefore calling for expressions of interest for the formation of panels to allow for early engagement with landowners, whilst also educating and offering support to local authorities to create a more deliverable product that satisfies stakeholders and assists in speeding up the delivery process.

If you would like to speak to SGP about participating in a panel, please contact: Ian Yallop

 

Download a copy of the SGP Neighbourhood Centres report here:

Local Centres + Neighbourhood Schemes

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