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Is Pandemic-Proof Development Possible?


There is a quick answer to this question (see below), but what has really struck me recently is who is asking. It isn’t just the development community, as you might expect, but also the general public who, as a result of Covid, are thinking in much more detail about how they interact with the buildings they live, work and spend leisure time in. I’m convinced that this will have a lasting impact on how property is developed in future.

The most significant development must surely be a new generation of truly mixed-use buildings and spaces. The trend away from single-use property started some time ago, but I think history will show that the current pandemic has accelerated the rate of change, so that quite soon (perhaps within a decade) we’ll simply marvel at the vast retail- and office-only edifices of the late 20th century. Current projects, such as the regeneration of the Romexpo exhibition centre in Bucharest, Romania and the City Plaza redevelopment in Wuppertal, Germany, serve as excellent examples of how rethinking urban spaces in a much more creative (and complex) fashion is now almost certain to become standard.

Back to the original question, and my short answer is: No, but… The ‘but’ – which leads to a longer and much more interesting response – is: There are a huge number of ways in which property and places can actively help to improve people’s well-being during a pandemic. Savvy real estate practitioners are already taking this on board. Top of their list is the value of outside space, including green areas, lakes, ponds and rivers, in promoting better mental health and reducing virus spread. Major developments around London such as British Land’s Canada Water and Argent Related’s Brent Cross Town have outdoor spaces at their cores, something I think schemes of all sizes in any location could – and should – emulate.

Transport and technology will also be critical for new development with, for example, provision of generous bike storage and shower facilities likely to be included as standard in all kinds of buildings, along with reliable, high bandwidth digital connectivity. Buildings will be significantly greener, as Covid has brought environmental and sustainability issues to the fore, highlighted by the European Commission’s €1 trillion European Green Deal. Right now, the P-THREE mantra of ‘people make places make property’ is more relevant than ever.

 

Justin Taylor, Co-founder,  P-THREE

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