Prioritising experience, authenticity, and a thorough understanding of how consumers want to use places will be at the centre of successful design, according to a panel at the annual retail conference taking place in Liverpool.
In a panel debating ‘what consumers really want from places in the future’, a panel of build-to-rent, retail and culture specialists called for a return to “people-led design”.
The panel began with John Badman, director at Callison RTKL, who gave a presentation that explained his learnings from work in the build-to-rent sector.
- “Tech has been the driving force in retail and property’s rapid change, but who knows what is to come in the future and what its longevity will be?”
- “People are living and working in a more agile way, which has proven difficult to navigate. However, people are still driven by their base needs, as highlighted in Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’, which is what we should be developing around”
- “From a business perspective, we want to encourage longevity and diminish turnover rate, and according to a survey from Savills, if a tenant knows one person in their building they are 50% more likely to stay, and if they know two or more, they are 90% more likely to stay”
Mark Davy, founder and chief executive of Futurecity delivered his presentation on identity and culture in cities.
- “Cities are becoming more important than countries. There is that divide between places like Manchester and Liverpool, or Melbourne and Sydney, where each has to have that distinct and separate identity. It is the culture and creativity that make unique cities”
- “Business has now realised the importance of creating more unique and creative spaces as they saw the increase in footfall and expenditure in places that already encouraged or created art”
- “Culture has become as important as planning as it provides an experiential aspect that drives further use which gives it longevity”
Rebecca Taylor, managing director for Long Harbour’s build-to-rent division, spoke about the future of property, and how buildings need to understand tenants as consumers, whether in residential or retail.
- “The UK residential market is valued at £7tn, and 21% of that is from the private rental sector. This has grown 4% in five years, and is predicted to grow to 33% by 2022. It is a huge market of opportunity, and I believe it’s down to the flexibility and experience renting affords”
- “47% of the US PRS sector is own by big industrial investment companies. In the UK, only 3% of PRS is owned by investment companies or REITs as more people have an extra one or two homes as an investment”
Justin Taylor, founder at P-Three gave the final presentationl. He looked at planning for the future in the property sector, and keeping purpose at the forefront of developments.
- “The first thing to focus on is people, then purpose, property and place design, engagement, and finally leadership. These principles give a development longevity and deliver to the customer and shift the focus from immediate profit”
- “Places need to be people focused and built on the cultural foundation of an area which makes them relevant and authentic. It gives places longevity when they’d adopted by the community”
The panel spoke of how property needs to move fast to be flexible, and respond to the changing consumer needs.
- “For us it’s about ground floor activation,” according to Badman. “We need to design spaces with flexibility in mind, and not just put in retailers in the bottom of resi schemes because they are willing to pay. We need to think what retail will support the residential offer and the local area”
- Rebecca Taylor said: “Space usage in residential hasn’t changed; it still provides a sanctuary. What’s necessary now is the integration of more opportunities for events and community space”
- “The creation of more plug-and-play or audio spaces with digital integration can help create multi-functional assets” according to Davy
- “Responding to the occupier and changing planning policy is the way forward” said Justin Taylor. “Planning is a long and restrictive process and doesn’t allow for use changes. Leasing models also need to evolve in this way as well”