Why creating communities around shopping centres is good business

intu's development director Martin Breeden explains why shopping centres wishing to become retail destinations need to capitalise on surrounding land.

Visitors to retail destinations are demanding more reasons to visit – and that means having everything from food and fashion, to leisure facilities and living spaces all in one place.

Many property companies have been looking to the land around their centres to ensure they have fully capitalised on the potential.

This is part of a strategic shift towards diversity of uses in retail-led development, whereby developers can increase the importance of their centre to the local area.

By offering a hub for a variety of activities, and placing it at the heart of their communities, they are creating destinations that appeal to a broader audience and larger catchment.

This trend is accelerating, and while there are a whole host of options, the initial focus should be on residential, hotels and flexible working spaces, creating a captive audience for existing retail locations.

Providing something for everyone can have a knock-on impact – having a community living on the doorstep will increase spend in the centre.

Other less tangible but equally important benefits include an increased vibrancy and relevancy of the local area as a new destination.

The transformation of centres has always been a continuous process, but the speed of change is increasing. The best locations will continue to deliver theatre and excellent service, maximising footfall and dwell time for brands.

How intu is putting this into practice

With only around 50% of the surface area of intu’s out-of-town estate currently developed, there’s a lot of potential to be capitalised on and space to be leveraged.

“The long-term vision is to create a vibrant new community right on the doorstep of the centre, ensuring residents can benefit from everything it has to offer”

One of the first plans to be brought forward is a development of more than 1,000 new homes for the private rented sector, new public spaces, transport connections, and lifestyle and leisure facilities at the south end of intu Lakeside in Essex.

The long-term vision is to create a vibrant new community right on the doorstep of the centre, ensuring residents can benefit from everything it has to offer.

While the plans for the residential scheme at intu Lakeside are still at a very early stage, the principles behind it are well established: a modern centre needs to be diverse, multi-faceted and make the maximum use of the space around it, if it’s going to keep visitors coming back.

Half of the UK population visits an intu shopping centre every year, so that’s a huge volume of repeat visits to play for.

 

First appeared in Retail Week (November 2019)

 

By offering a hub for a variety of activities, and placing it at the heart of their communities, they are creating destinations that appeal to a broader audience and larger catchment.

Martin Breeden

intu