The death of the city centre is a very real possibility unless developers and investors recognise the inevitable shift towards spaces of cultural understanding and enjoyment'- These were the words of warning issued by a leading Nottingham architect today, as he addressed an audience at The Housing and Build to Rent Conference.
Edwards Acres, managing director at Nottingham-based architectural practice, Acres Architects painted a picture of disused city centre spaces, unless councils, investors and developers work together to recognise that the anthropology of our town and city centres have changed.
Speaking at the online conference attended by senior professionals and key decision makers in the housing, PRS and BtR sectors, Edward said: "From analysis of the markets, it is clear that we are about to experience an economic boom, akin to that seen in the roaring twenties. There seems to be much emphasis on shops closing down, and a real worry about what lies ahead for our town and city centre spaces, but I feel that we will make a move towards Roman culture, where business will be done on the streets.
"City centres should become destinations for coffee, culture, museums and enjoyment.
"Many years ago, twenty-somethings would buy apartments in the city, close to the nightlife, and the suburbs were seen as desirable for rearing your children, settling down and moving on to that next stage of your life. There has been a shift in recent years and Build to Rent trends are seeing more and more developers making use of disused buildings and remodelling them into much needed housing."
The comments come as John Lewis announced this week, it will be moving into the residential property market by building 10,000 homes for rental over the next few years.
The department store chain said it wanted to address the national housing shortage and support local communities. It was revealed yesterday that 7,000 of the initial 10,000 homes would be on sites in its existing property portfolio, ranging from studio flats to houses.
Edward, from the architectural firm which has been inundated with enquiries from nightclub owners, shop owners and property investors seeking to remodel city centre buildings in Derby and Nottingham, added: "What John Lewis is doing is a smart move, and something already being done in other cities by the likes of Moda Living, Ballymore Group and the Select Property Group, who all understand the importance of adapting to this change and demand
"People want to live in apartments once more. Buyers are seeking low maintenance living with concierge services, in house gym spaces and that easy pace of life. The commute is quickly becoming a thing of the past since Covid19, and people want to make things easy for themselves. Put simply, people want more adaptable living spaces.
"We are helping many property owners to realise the potential in any site, by understanding what the market needs now. Our buildings must stand the test of time, and so as an architectural practice we must predict to some extent what trends will be coming next. Build to Rent is a trend which is here to stay, and we are keen to hear from developers and investors seeking to stay ahead of the game."