Could we reduce at least some of the need to build on greenfield sites with more Living Over The Shop (LOTS)?

Last week Worcester News ran an article “High Street Cannot Die” where Tim Evans owner of Toys & Games called on the ‘High Street’ to re-invent itself. I passionately believe that at least a part of the answer to rejuvenating the High Street is to encourage more Living Over The Shop (LOTS) in the city centre.

Great work has been done by organisations like Worcester Municipal Charities in increasing the amount of upper floor flats and apartments close to the city centre. I’d like to see their good work expanded still further right into places like the Shambles and even to the High Street.

LOTS has the potential to increase the amount of accommodation without building on greenfield sites. City centre living with all the shops, amenities, train and bus stations also has the potential to increase housing without as much pressure to increase car journeys – so the normal congestion-increasing effect of building new houses on the outskirts of the city is also greatly reduced.

Clearly LOTS may not suit everyone, but many people like the buzz of city centre living. More LOTS could have a moderating effect on antisocial behaviour and crime in the city. The rents they pay could support landlords to be more creative in supporting more viable rents for the shop below and of course more people living in the city centre will increase footfall and hopefully increase their business takings too.

I’m pleased that the new emerging SWDP does make reference to encouraging more mixed use of buildings such as LOTS. I will be pushing for the wording to be strengthened further. There are many complex barriers to seeing more widespread adoption of LOTS. For sure if it was easy to fix it would have been – but just because it is not easy is not a reason for planners and policy makers not to try much, much harder.


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