Arcadis: Could the rejuvenation of the High Street also solve our housing crisis?

Pressure on the green belt, building on flood plains, investment in new road infrastructure, delivering affordable housing and meeting carbon zero commitments are some of the many well publicised reasons why housing demand is not being met. Of course, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has thrown a bigger curve ball than anyone could have imagined into the mix as tenants across the country are urging government to freeze rent payments. The gap – the difference between the current housing stock and the number needed for everyone to have a decent home to live in – is more than one million according to recent research. So, is the solution closer to home or closer to the heart of our towns and cities? The High Street.

The benefits of town centre living

Living close to the places where employment density is greatest, leisure and recreational activities are concentrated and where main transport hubs are located would seem sensible and an attractive proposition for many.

Indeed, town centre living can also bring benefits to the carbon zero agenda, despite the common misconception that the UK’s big towns could be doing more damage to global warming than living in villages and the countryside. In fact, the European Commission found that UK emissions stand at 5.7 tonnes per person and the vast majority of the country’s largest towns and cities emit below that average. Though the differences are not hugely significant, on average, homes in large towns emit slightly less carbon dioxide per person than their rural neighbours as they tend to be smaller, denser and easier to heat.

Regeneration and diversification

With carbon zero benefits aside, the truth is that decades of under investment in our town centres and the availability…

Read the full article on the Arcadis website