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Are Cities Centres Doomed?

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 last week, 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.”

He added: “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 that 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.