Our needs are changing at a phenomenal rate both in the workplace and at home, so planners and developers must keep up to avoid an influx of defunct buildings.
We are already seeing shifts in the way office space is designed to ensure it can accommodate new technology, the needs of the modern workforce and desire to work more flexibly. But it’s the residential sector that will require developers to take a longer-term view when creating schemes to ensure that buildings are still fit for purpose in 40 years’ time.
The rise of the electric car – Demands for electric charging points are on the up, so it’s not unusual to see a small number of these on new housing developments. As the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is due to end by 2040 and there is pressure on the Government to bring this date forward, these charging facilities will soon become standard requirements, so will need to be incorporated into development plans now.
Developers should consider:
- Who will maintain these charging points. Are developments able to accommodate another service provider competing for access rights?
- How will the income from the charging points be applied? The market place offers a variety of solutions from third parties supplying the equipment and retaining the income to a hybrid model (no pun intended) of a share of income being attributed to the freeholder. Will developers look to retain this or apply it towards the ever increasing costs of estate management?
- Who will make sure that charging points are being properly used – is this to be a responsibility of the management company/managing agents? It will be necessary to ensure appropriate obligations are placed upon the occupants of the development through leases/tenant regulations.
Transport changes will also affect parking requirements. A report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology reveals that ‘car miles per person will gradually fall off as ‘generation Y’ reach middle age and replace the current generation of highly car-dependent users.’ This could mean the usual one car space per household could soon be a thing of the past, as could large basement car parks.
With building costs continuing to rise, the removal of basement carparks and their significant expense could have a massive impact on releasing a number of stalled schemes whilst also helping to release a variety of tenures that better meet the needs of local communities.
Same day/next day delivery – With e-commerce growing year on year and online sales expected to reach £262.46 bn in 2018, our shopping habits must also be considered. As we continue to buy more products online, there’s a strong argument for incorporating more secure delivery space in housing schemes.
New technologies and services are paving the way for this change. Amazon for example, has recently launched The Hub. Similar to the Amazon Lockers that have popped up in supermarkets, the Hub is a delivery locker for apartment buildings and housing complexes, which will accept all deliveries and can be accessed at any time.
In light of the growing demand for such facilities it will be necessary for developers to prepare for how such services are to be managed and run. The provision of space to third parties to manage deliveries does open up questions as to who will have the benefit of any income generated for granting use of such space. Will this assist in addressing the balance of service charge costs on some developments?
This is also leading to question marks around the role and relevance of the concierge. It may be that this service is no longer required in years to come, or perhaps different skills will be required to better serve the changing needs of residents.
Recycling is another area that will require more thought when developing new housing. Although recycling rates are increasing, more can be done and this could be achieved through housing design.
Although many apartment blocks have rubbish chutes, a similar facility for recycling on larger schemes could significantly improve the way waste is managed, especially as our online packages continue to arrive in huge amounts of cardboard.
Although nobody can predict exactly what will happen over the next 40 years, we do know that the way we choose to live and work is changing rapidly and fuelled by technological advances.
Developers and more importantly planners must act now to try and accommodate these shifts. This will require a more flexible approach to design and a need to interpret Local Plans more forensically.
This will take future proofing to another level and move it up the placemaking agenda, which long-term, could result in more sustainable housing and buildings that remain fit for purpose for future generations.
Jonathan Corris is a partner in our Real Estate and Projects Team