A development in Somerset exemplifies why mixed-use development is the way of the future. At least, that’s what its creator believes.
Do residential and commercial structures coexist well? Carl Haley, managing director of Persimmon Homes Severn Valley, agrees.
The construction company is heavily involved in the development of a new enterprise area, where one of its housing developments is sandwiched between commercial buildings.
Across the country, more and more councils and developers are realising that relocating homes to town centres not only creates a more vibrant, safer community, but also boosts the local economy.
Persimmon Homes intends to construct 2,500 homes at Haywood Village in Weston-super-Mare, ranging from two to five bedrooms, as well as a new primary school, community, and leisure facilities.
It is also developing the Weston Business Quarter (WBQ), one of the employment sites in the Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA), which will include serviced office suites, a hotel, a public house/restaurant, and a crèche just off the M5.
The region’s priority is job growth, and as such, J21EA aims to deliver 10,000 jobs by 2026, reducing the need for commuting.
However, creating jobs on such a large scale necessitates the construction of more housing, and where better to build it than in the heart of the business district?
“For Persimmon, we believe there is no chicken and egg situation here,” Haley says. Jobs will be created if we build high-quality homes, particularly the high-end opportunities we are developing with local businesses and the local government.”
Workers will no longer have to face an arduous commute, which makes sense given the constant rise in fuel prices. This type of advancement has the potential to reduce not only people’s transportation costs, but also their commute time to work. Shorter and faster commutes to and from work must be a plus in an era when people are working longer hours.
Some 47 percent of Weston-super-Mare residents already work in management, professional, and technical occupations, but the majority commute out of town. J21EA seeks to redress the balance by bringing large businesses to the area and, with them, jobs that keep talent in the area.
Some progress has already been made on the site, including the recent completion of Knightstone Housing Association’s new 40,000-square-foot headquarters at Weston Gateway Business Park.
‘The Hive,’ a 20,000sq ft managed workspace currently being developed by North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA) and set to open in May, is another step forward.
In addition, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has completed a 6,000sq ft speculative office development in Locking Parklands, St Modwen’s, along with high quality homes.
“In order to make the mix of housing and business work, it is critical to create a place that people can relate to and be proud of,” Haley adds. Initiatives such as joint residents/employers’ associations can also be effective in this setting.”
The enterprise area, on the other hand, goes even further, with plans to build a new flagship STEM college (science, technology, engineering, and math) at Weston Business Quarter. North Somerset Enterprise Technical College (NSETC) strives for a strong business ethos, assisting in the development of relationships between local businesses and residents.
“Youth unemployment is always a concern,” says Nigel Ashton, leader of North Somerset Council, “and we want young people growing up in North Somerset to have the opportunity to stay here, near their families, and still have plenty of opportunities to forge highly successful careers.”
Companies in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, and Bristol have been heavily involved in discussions to establish the new NSETC, which aims to provide young people growing up in the area with the opportunity to stay close to their families while pursuing successful careers with large corporations. As a result, there is an increased demand for housing.
“The investment Persimmon Homes has made in Haywood Village, our Business Quarter, and commitment to J21EA means the benefits for future communities are a step change for the entire South West,” Haley concludes.