Localism – Repurposing for the Community

Repurposing of real estate is taking on many different forms. From regenerating whole town centres to suit local communities, to reimagining vacant spaces for more commercially viable uses; huge swathes of real estate are being made fit-for-purpose for the future economy.

Truly researching and understanding what occupiers, customers and communities want from these assets is crucial to all forms of repurposing. Whether big or small, not having a predetermined view of what will work best in the future is essential. Localism is one of the driving forces behind this, as customers increasingly seek out retailers and operators on their doorstep. Not just as a short-term response to the pandemic, but as part of a longer term trend.

Having worked together on a project at Liverpool Shopping Park, we recently asked Peter Gilliland, Head of Property Management at Derwent Estates and Esther Worboys , Placemaking Manager at Activate and an Expert member of The High Streets Task Force, to talk about the value of understanding the local community when looking to repurpose assets or reimagine vacant spaces. Chaired by Jennifer Small on our Marketing team, they share a number of the practical considerations to make the best of a challenging space.

Understanding of local demographics, community research and creative design all combined to develop ideas for an unloved area of public realm. The vision is to transform this part of a thriving retail destination into a valuable community amenity. Although the project is still in progress, a lot of work has been done by the Activate team to research what the local community need, supported by our CAD team to visualise the possibilities. As we prepare for retail reopening in April 2021, we look forward to these ideas becoming a reality and the community offer being enhanced.

Watch: A discussion on repurposing for the community