Browsing the Sunday papers recently, I read an article about how the growth of autonomous cars is changing the way residential developments are being planned in tech-focused cities such as San Francisco. The basic idea being that as self-driving cars, which can be summoned at will, become so integrated there will be no need to own a private car. Therefore, all space currently dedicated to residential parking could be freed up for something else – public open space, community facilities, or just more housing. There are UK developers beginning to explore this - offering Uber* credits if rental tenants agree not to have a parking space for example, but most of what we see here is just tinkering around the edges of the way we have always designed residential developments. So, is this from a lack of ambition or a lack of speed in our planning system?
We purchased our first family house from a small-scale developer back in 2005 and the marketing for the scheme was full of descriptions about ‘new and innovative’ technology included in the house design. By the time we actually got to move in however, the in-built audio, internet wiring and control panels in every room were practically obsolete as iPod docking stations and wi-fi took over. That may have been a decade ago, but it feels like little has changed. The elephantine-like gestation period (and that’s being optimistic – most developers would bite your hand off to get a scheme from conception to construction in just under two years) of UK planning, means that attempts to innovate can be out-of-date before they even get to submission, let alone occupation.
Until we speed up the planning process, not only are we failing to build enough homes, we are failing to build future proofed homes in an increasingly tech-dependant world which innovates at a rapid pace.
(*other companies are available…)
This article was written by Sereena Davey Associate Director at MPC.