The urban revival

We all recognise that regeneration of our towns and cities is one of the cornerstones to delivering prosperity – it will enable social inclusion and promote social mobility.

At Leslie Jones, we have found the urban renewal agenda gaining pace and heavily influencing our design approach across the practice, as we continue to diversify and grow.

Of particular note is the increasing prominence being given to the ground floor of new schemes. After all, successful schemes are, quite literally, built on the strength of their ground floor offer. Aesthetically and functionally it is quite often the first impression people have of a building, its setting and the uses there in, which are vital in securing a sale or letting.

With this in mind, Leslie Jones has been commissioned by Quintain at Wembley Park to curate the ground floor plane. The practice is ensuring diverse and engaging tenants are delivered at this nationally significant scheme to effectively support uses above, whether these are residential or commercial. Ensuring a vibrant, sustainable and relevant ground floor will support the values above, whilst creating real places of value for the communities they serve.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of the Leslie Jones newsletter that we believe another key aspect of the regeneration agenda is the increasing importance of Local Authorities in unlocking their town centres from a retail and leisure perspective. For retail to thrive and add value to our town centres, it must be designed for the local population, and having the buy-in and investment of a Local Authority secures that for any town or city in the long term.

Leslie Jones has had a long history of working with Local Authorities in their town centres. We completed work to Friars Walk in Newport for the City Council and Queensberry and are currently working with Chesire West and Rivington Land in Chester, where we are part of the design team on Northgate.

Most recently, however, we have been commissioned by Cherwell District Council on their recent purchase of Castle Quay shopping centre from Aberdeen Standard. It is clear from our experience that local authorities are keen to take back control of their town and city centres to ensure the best environments and offer for their communities.

Last, but by no means least, in urban revival is the importance of infrastructure. Providing conduits through which people and trade might flow effectively should be a central policy at a national and local level.

In this regard, Leslie Jones has had recent success as part of the WSP team on the HS2 Curzon Street Station, where we are challenged to deliver exemplary commercial design within the armature of the Grimshaw designed station building.

James Cons, Managing Director, Leslie Jones Architecture