Planners, homebuyers and developers all aspire to the creation of high quality, newbuild development with thriving local business and community spaces. Yet so high are the costs of providing community infrastructure that it only tends to be viable on the very largest development schemes.
Over the last 10 years there has been a significant growth in temporary and mobile community events and commerce. Local festivals, produce markets and shows have flourished. A growing proportion of our commerce is now ordered from and delivered to the home. Mobile retailing (like the barber example in the BBC article) is on the rise. With the demise of traditional facilities like the village pub and shop it is important that we find viable alternatives in modern economic times. Query whether planning policies and new development could do more to support and benefit from these changes?
More imaginative design could make public open space land more amenable and suitable for hosting local events and gatherings. Another opportunity is for community retail vehicle bays to be reserved along estate spine roads (with service connections if necessary) to encourage mobile street food catering, pop up bars and visiting retailers. The above changes could help bring residents together as they enjoy visits from a range of outlets and event hosts be they a Thursday night Gin Bar, Friday night fish van or Saturday Morning Coffee kart.
With benefits that could be relatively easily attained and the ability for estate management companies to recoup some contributions to their costs through pitch fees it would be great to see this idea gain traction.
Mobile barbering: 'It's like Uber, but for haircuts' A van painted in bright colours drives slowly down a leafy, residential road in Norwood, south London. A young man in the front garden of a house, clutching a phone, waves at the driver, who parks nearby. They shake hands, then the driver pulls back the sliding door of the van. This reveals a sparkling, silver barber's chair, a large mirror, a hair dryer and pots filled with a variety of scissors. "My service is like Deliveroo, or Uber Eats, but instead of delivering food, we deliver haircuts," explains Darren Tenkorang, 24, co-founder of Trim-It. He currently has two vans buzzing around south London and another in the north-west of the city. Darren is confident he's on to something. "My generation really values convenience above all else, you see."