Mixed-tenure homes in mixed-use communities – how do we make it work?

13.10.22 5 min read by Michael Auger

Many reasons have been sighted for the challenges in our housing system – obstructive planning, land banking, a shortage of construction capacity – little consensus has emerged. Greater consensus has been reached on the benefits of mixed-tenure developments. Since the 1970s, it’s been generally accepted that creating more diverse, cohesive and integrated communities underpins long-term sustainable places.

It’s all in the mix

Much research is now emerging on the socio-economic benefits of mixed-tenure areas, benefits that have been assumed for many years, not least due to the strong moral case. While many mixed-tenure neighbourhoods have emerged in recent years, there’s more to be done and the symbiotic relationship between mixed-use areas and mixed-tenure living has perhaps been less emphasised than it might.

As a mixed-use, master developer, many of our schemes are on brownfield sites in central locations that have been in decline and many have become a drain on a local economy.

Lewisham People's Day, Lewisham Gateway, Lewisham
Lewisham People's Day, Lewisham Gateway, Lewisham
Urban regeneration and repurposing isn’t about delivering shiny new buildings in the hope that ‘if we build it, they will come’, it’s about understanding community needs and the underlying strengths of an area.”

From there, we’ll work with the existing grain, blend heritage with future aspirations and create the right infrastructure and optimum mix of uses to bring people back to an area to live, work and socialise. The key is around creating diverse, adaptable and inclusive communities. Put simply, it’s about delivering a blend of uses and living options to offer choice, interest and opportunity.

What’s in a tenure?

The move towards the institutional rental sector has broadened living choices over recent years. One of the advantages of the Build to Rent model, is that it gives rise to opportunities to more readily pepper-pot affordable homes. The intermediate rent homes at Lewisham Gateway are completely mixed with private rent, plus the actual homes used as intermediate rent will flex and be truly fluid over time, genuinely tenure blind.

Seizing the full extent of the opportunity for mixed-tenure living within mixed-use developments can’t be done in isolation. It can only be achieved in partnership, whether it be with investors, local authorities, registered providers and of course, communities.

There’s still something of a myth that you can’t offer someone in an affordable home the same experience as a private renter or owner occupier, but this just isn’t the case. We’ve been able to achieve this successfully and consistently including projects in Canning Town, Brentford, Brixton Lewisham and Bristol, to name a few.

Scale and pace

Scale and pace are critical to enable schemes to be built out holistically rather than incrementally over a longer period. While there can be some hard yards in bringing together various funding partners, we find it crucial to large-scale delivery. Again, Lewisham Gateway is a key example of this blending our own finance with public-sector funding support, senior debt and institutional finance in to Build to Rent and affordable homes.

Location location location

Living in more central locations is now a lifestyle choice and it’s not just aimed at millennials, or Generation Z either. What those interested in co-living and senior living have in common, along with other tenures, is a focus on localism and a desire to be on the doorstep of leisure, retail and other facilities.

Seizing the full extent of the opportunity for mixed-tenure living within mixed-use developments can’t be done in isolation. It can only be achieved in partnership, whether it be with investors, local authorities, registered providers and of course, communities.

Drawing those stakeholders together with a common purpose is a fundamental part of our role at Muse.”

Despite current wider challenges, there’s appetite in the market for involvement in the right projects that offer choice, quality and inclusivity. If that potential can be realised, some truly special places will come forward, to benefit all in our communities.

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