Urban Form and Land Use Innovations Within Existing and New Retail Areas, 2018-2022

White, James and Hickie, James and Richardson, Robert (2022). Urban Form and Land Use Innovations Within Existing and New Retail Areas, 2018-2022. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-855977

The retail sector is crucial to the economic health and vitality of towns and cities and is a core component of the national economy, but is experiencing an ongoing period of change and the challenges faced by centres are being met in different ways, with different outcomes. Consumers are behaving, shopping and using urban centres in new and diverse ways and many retailing centres have experienced falling footfall, retailer closures and a rise in empty retail units. In an attempt to reverse the cycle of decline, centres need to be multi-functional places and policy-makers are encouraging more mixed use development. Large-scale mixed-use re-development of obsolete stock, novel temporary land uses, events and public realm works are being used to try to make urban centres more attractive and increase their competitive edge. Yet, not everyone is experiencing the benefits of these changes. Mistrust, tension and conflict can arise from land use changes and become barriers to further renewal and change, limiting the effectiveness of these "town centre first" policies. A recent ESRC-funded study undertaken by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University blamed these tensions and lack of co-operation as significant contributors to the continued declined of retailing in many centres (Parker, 2015). This project seeks to explore one of the largest stakeholder groups within the sector. The objectives and behaviour of land and property owners, developers and investors are significant to the use and form of retailing centres. The project explores how ownership and the behaviour of this stakeholder group impact on the sector, by exploring issues around changing ownership and use patterns; innovations in design form; the ability of the industry to respond to change; and the ways the group engages and interacts with other stakeholders in urban centres. Thus, it aims to examine how their expectations, perceptions, practices and co-operation help or limit experimentation with new uses, building types and designs. The research will explore issues around: whether retailers and landlords in city centres are becoming more or less diverse; whether new design formats, flexible uses and large scale redevelopments can help struggling centres; the extent to which established practices and procedures in the real estate market encourage or even hinder new uses; and whether stakeholders can work together in better ways for the future health of town and city centres. These issues will be examined using five case study cities over the period 1997-2017: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield and Nottingham. The project will bring together different data that has not been available previously, to map, measure and identify any links between changes in land and building use, vacancy and ownership over the last 20 years. It will analyse and identify new developments and novel land and building uses and designs and, by talking to developers, designers, planners and occupiers, the researchers will identify the factors shaping these changes and how they impact on cities and shoppers. The project will examine established real estate market practices, such as lease lengths, rent review terms, repair obligations and use clauses to see how adaptable the industry is to change when shoppers and retailers want new and unusual property uses and forms. Finally, the researchers will talk to different centre users, managers and owners to explore how relationships might work well or badly and identify good practice for the creation of new developments and adaptions to the existing building stock to help the retail sector in cities.

Data description (abstract)

The Real Estate Adaptation and Innovation within an integrated Retailing system (REPAIR) project, conducted at the University of Glasgow and University of Sheffield, investigated the changes experienced across the retail cores of five UK cities Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Liverpool and Nottingham between 2000 and 2021. The project examined different aspects of the property market and built environment across four separate work streams. The primary data stored here relates to Work Package B and was collected via semi-structured interviews with city centre actors, including: property professionals; retailers; architects; planners; and other local authority officials. The interviews investigate the urban form and land use innovations emerging in response to the structural changes experienced in recent years in city centre retail markets. The findings explore the issues related to redundant and vacant properties and adaptive reuse, focusing on: retail unit and shopping centre design innovation; public realm regeneration; the experience economy; and city centre events. Some of the interviews - those conducted in 2021 after the pandemic started - also capture the effects of the pandemic on retailing centres.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
White James University of Glasgow https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6315-3165
Hickie James UCL
Richardson Robert University of Glasgow
Sponsors: ESRC
Grant reference: ES/R005117/1
Topic classification: Housing and land use
Project title: Real Estate Adaptation and Innovation within an Integrated Retailing System
Grant holders: Allison Orr, Cath Jackson, James White
Project dates:
30 September 201829 June 2022
Date published: 29 Sep 2022 16:40
Last modified: 29 Sep 2022 16:40

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