Glyn robbins


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  • The Mars bar epithet
  • Charter Quay, mixed use in the planners, developers and politicians eye
  • Has become a high street standard. Although there is an attempt to move away from it, this interpretation of .mixed use’ has left a significant legacy and raises questions about diversity and the aspiration for fine grain, active street frontages.
  • Has often become estate agent, bookies and fast food outlet in the name of mixed use.
  • An example of the importance of specificity and socio-spatial context, raising questions about social and ethnic integration. Also note the cultural and heritage dimensions of mixed use developments.
  • ‘…the proposed mixed use development will deliver a range of significant planning and regeneration benefits. It has been designed to relate positively, yet sensitively to the surrounding urban context and will make valuable contributions to local and strategic employment, residential and social objectives.’
  • The purpose of my research and this paper is to discuss whether mixed use is a panacea, a placebo, or a proxy for urban gentrification under the cover of a vague, feel-good notion of ‘sustainability’.
  • New Labour brought a significant boost to mixed use through association with the Urban Renaissance.
  • The development, completed in 2008, provides 221 homes (including a 20-storey tower block), six shops, a gym and a new ‘public realm’. Desk-top analysis, interviews and observation to place the scheme in context.
  • Racialised responses
  • Glyn robbins

    1. 1. Mixing Uses in a Mixed Up City: the theory and practice of mixed use property development in urban policy London Met Post-Graduate Conference 2010 Glyn Robbins (Cities Institute)
    2. 2. What is Mixed Use? • Defining the concept of mixed use has become one of the research questions. • Additional complication because the term is over-used, but under-theorised.
    3. 3. Look out of the window •Almost any urban landscape, including Holloway Road, will have examples of mixed use. •Mixing uses e.g. living above shops, has been the norm of human urban experience. •Moves to separate land uses, particularly associated with 20th century UK planning policy, are the exception
    4. 4. Example from Bracknell of separation of residential and industrial uses, part of the post-WW2 New Town policy
    5. 5. The Burj tower in Dubai, tallest building in the world and example of ‘vertical’ mixed use. ‘Population’ of 8,000 people including hotels, swimming pools, offices and apartments.
    6. 6. ‘A Place to Work, Play, Eat and Stay’ Brindley Place, Birmingham. Example of ‘horizontal’ mixed use. Commercial-led, 8,000 workers, but no residents.
    7. 7. Mixed use ‘ideal type’, Charter Quay, Kingston-upon-Thames: public realm, public art, cafes, restaurants, bars and private apartments.
    8. 8. ‘A Tesco Express with 30 flats on top’ A more common image of high street mixed use.
    9. 9. The Jane Jacobs Playbook: Butcher, baker, candlestick maker Potential for urban vitality and ‘sustainability’ questioned by some mixtures of use.
    10. 10. ‘…sensitively integrating new buildings to create a series of linked spaces which respond to the existing urban grain…an inviting retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Kings Road.’ More sophisticated mixed use, Duke of York Square, Chelsea, next to Saatchi gallery.
    11. 11. More brutal mixed use design in Shadwell, Tower Hamlets.
    12. 12. A waste of space Aprox. 30% of commercial mixed use space in London empty.
    13. 13. A global concept A similar problem in the Yukon!
    14. 14. The livable, walkable (inclusive?) city 20 mins. walk south of US Capitol, Washington DC. Former public housing project bulldozed to make way for new, mixed use, riverfront ‘community’.
    15. 15. Theoretical Possibilities • A response to the 21st century city? • A route to ‘sustainable urbanism’? • A reaction against urban planning? • A green-washed justification for gentrifcation? • A well-intentioned policy aspiration that became an empty slogan?
    16. 16. ‘It enables vitality through activity and diversity. It makes areas safer. It also reduces the need to travel, making people less reliant on cars, bringing welcome environmental benefits.’ Tory Environment Minister John Gummer, 1995
    17. 17. ‘…set out a vision of well designed, compact and connected cities supporting a diverse range of uses – where people live, work and enjoy leisure time at close quarters – in a sustainable urban environment…’ Lord Rogers’ Urban Task Force, 2005
    18. 18. Mixed Use at the Coalface: how planners understand and implement mixed use • The Planners’ Dilemma • No mixed use consensus • Local variability • Mixed motives • Differential outcomes, with some common themes
    19. 19. Watney Street Case Study • A place in flux • Little evidence of mixed use promoting social integration • Racialised response to changing built environment • Competing narratives
    20. 20. The Regeneration Line
    21. 21. Zones of Exclusivity and Exclusion
    22. 22. ‘I’ve made friends with one person in that development (Tarling Heights)…I don’t see them. (Barry) ‘They don’t seem to be part of the texture of the area. It’s more mixed, but people don’t seem to be interacting.’ (Ishmail) ‘I don’t see this as a Mixed Use development in a meaningful way because it’s polarised.’ (Ben)
    23. 23. ‘Where they wanted integration, it’s caused segregation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not racist, but the Asian community gets all these new builds because they’re purposely built for them. They’re making communities of Asians. They don’t want to mix with us.’ (Eliza)
    24. 24. ‘Those little stone things? They don’t even look like benches!’
    25. 25. ‘They’ve tried to manufacture the public realm. It’s typical planners. They set down rules and we’ve got to conform to them.’ (Barry) ‘I’d tell the architects “there is no public space here”. All there is are some concrete planters and benches. It could have been much more carefully designed. (Mario)
    26. 26. Non-use of ‘public realm’
    27. 27. Use of public realm
    28. 28. The night-time economy and café culture Problems of application
    29. 29. Mixed, ‘tenure blind’ communities
    30. 30. Permeability, vitality and passive surveillance
    31. 31. Vehicle for Urban Regeneration
    32. 32. Conclusions • Contradictory policies and outcomes • No thorough policy analysis (EBP?) • Seductive, design oriented rhetoric • Mixed Use part of ‘The Game’ between planners, developers and politicians • Raises broader issues - expectations and meanings of place, space, entitlement and rights to the city