Last edited 08 Jun 2016

Mixed use development

The term ‘mixed use development’ refers to development projects that comprise a mixture of land uses, or more than just a single use. In terms of planning permissions, mixed use refers to land or buildings used for different uses which fall into more than one use class.

Mixed use developments can be ‘vertical’, in which a single building accommodates multiple uses, such as a skyscraper that has floors of office space as well as a hotel complex, or a terrace building that has a flat on the first floor and a shop on the ground floor.

Alternatively, they can be ‘horizontal’ mixed use development where a range of different buildings on the same site each fulfill a specific purpose, such as a community area that has accommodation as well as playing facilities, shops, parking and other amenities.

In Britain after the Second World War, town planning tended to focus on large, single-use buildings such as shopping centres. These often faced criticism for disrupting the traditional flow and diversity of town centre areas. More recently, mixed use developments have become a more prominent feature of planning policy, with the aim of revitalizing urban centres and generating benefits for the community, such as reduced demand for transport and other infrastructure, local employment opportunities, more interesting urban fabric and enhanced property values.

One of the 12 core planning principles set out in the national planning policy framework (NPPF) that underpin plan-making and decision-taking is to:

‘promote mixed use developments, and encourage multiple benefits from the use of land in urban and rural areas, recognising that some open land can perform many functions (such as for wildlife, recreation, flood risk mitigation, carbon storage, or food production)’

National planning practice guidance suggests that promoting healthy communities should include ‘…opportunities for meetings between members of the community who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, including through mixed-use developments, strong neighbourhood centres and active street frontages which bring together those who work, live and play in the vicinity’

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