Mixed Uses

Urban development should, wherever feasible, enable mixed uses to take hold and flourish. Much depends upon detailed design, but location on a permeable and accessible street network and close proximity to a compact residential community is often critical.

Mixing uses can create a diversity of activity within streets and contribute to the vitality and sustainability of towns and neighbourhoods by providing employment, leisure and cultural opportunities (as well as services) to the local area.

The more mixed the land use, the more reasons there are to visit a space, increasing footfall and the sense of safety. Consideration should also be given to uses that promote activity across multiple time zones whilst remaining sympathetic to the locality. Large, single-purpose land uses can lengthen journeys which may make walking less practical; they also do not sustain a mix of activity and users across the day. This could serve to make such areas less desirable places to access, particularly via active travel, which has implications for the effective linking of places by these routes. Places with mixed land uses may help to minimise the number and length of trips, creating a positive sustainability impact even if active travel modes are not used to reach the destination.

For example, it can be beneficial to co-locate sport and leisure facilities with other community facilities – including retail establishments, schools, health facilities, community workspaces and/or shared amenities such as delivery pick-up facilities. Co-locating such facilities within a central development hub or nodal points greatly increases the convenience of participating in physical activity, increasing the likelihood of people using active travel as well as offering a range of health and social benefits. Where practicable, multiple sports and recreation facilities should be co-located. This allows people to choose from a range of activities in one location and promotes the efficient shared management of facilities improving the long-term viability of facilities.

The principle of co-locating community facilities applies to both major and smaller scale developments; in the latter case, a new community building can be designed to incorporate multiple uses.

There is a presumption in favour of developments that contain a mix of uses within building and street blocks where:

  • the development is located either close to existing services and facilities; or
  • the development is located on a public transport corridor.

The extent and range of uses will depend on the needs and demands identified in the Context Appraisal together with Local Planning Authority regeneration strategies or employment policies. In this regard, the Context Appraisal will add local detail to these policies and identify the opportunities for bringing about new employment, community space and service infrastructure.

It is also important to consider the changing nature of work and workplaces when designing for mixed uses. Developments should be designed to accommodate or adapt flexibly (and with minimum disruption) to the anticipated increased uptake of home-working, temporary and short-term leases on workspaces, shared workspaces and similar. This may be achieved by the inclusion of multi-functional community workspaces at the centre of developments, which can provide highly practical infrastructure as well as fostering an enhanced sense of community identity and integration.

On sites within 800m of large town centres or 400m of neighbourhood or small town centres, at least 50% of the ground-floor frontage of developments facing major streets should be allocated for non-residential uses other than vehicle parking.

The types of uses and block design will require careful consideration to minimise the possibility of conflict between uses. Access arrangements, noise generation and safety issues must be satisfactorily addressed.

All new development fronting a major street within a town centre, neighbourhood, large urban infill or a sustainable urban extension should comprise a mixture of uses identified in the Context Appraisal as both desirable and viable. Elsewhere, the degree to which a location can support non-residential uses should be informed by the outcome of the Context Appraisal and the development’s proximity to a major street. It is important to note that in new mixed-use developments, best practice entails the exclusion of fast-food businesses, as this enhances the wellbeing of residents.

Page updated: 31/01/2018

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