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BDP and BCSC chart the future of urban retail design

BDP and the British Council of Shopping Centres have unveiled their Urban Design for Retail Environments document, which aims to set design standards for shopping centres for the next decade.

The document and a sister paper, Managing the Retail-led Development of the Future, are responses to the government's Urban White Paper, which called for a shift from out-of-town shopping malls to better integrated urban shopping environments.

The report, which is backed by both CABE and English Heritage, outlines 10 key design targets for town centre shopping areas. They are character;

continuity and enclosure; quality of public realm;

ease of movement; legibility; adaptability; mix of uses; sustainability; value; and inclusivity. Each principle has a checklist of 10 associated questions that BDP director Peter Drummond claims will steer those involved in retail design to better practice. Drummond told the AJ: 'The last time a large out-of-town shopping centre was planned was in the early 1990s. There is now a new generation of architects that are looking to create welcoming shopping environments in town centres that can also drive regeneration.'

He said the idea was to encourage 'more rounded schemes', which include various mixed-use options that are adaptable. 'If it's adaptable then the building can go through a number of different uses in its lifetime - over 200 years we don't know how shopping patterns will change, but we know that a flexible building will still be of use.'

However, BCSC president Neil Mitchenall said:

'There is no UK shopping centre that can be held up as an exemplar of all of these principles, although some excel in certain areas.' He said he hoped that in six or seven years such schemes may arrive, but that in the meantime the industry was looking to countries such as Holland for best practice. He said the BCSC still had to convince some of its own members of the merits of urban design.

The reports are available, free of charge, from the BCSC on 020 7222 1122.

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