Mixed Use: Celebrated Concept, Partially Promoted Practice – English Experience with Implementing a Planning Principle

By Katherine Brookfield.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Influenced by such normative approaches to design and development as New Urbanism, various planning regimes increasingly celebrate mixed use as sustainable and desirable. However, this rarely translates into the practice being promoted as the ‘norm’. The literature identifies this situation in past versions of English planning policy but a lack of recent detailed studies limits our understanding of the current approach and thus whether the situation persists. Addressing this information gap, the paper explores policy’s present approach through a qualitative content analysis of written policy and interviews with local government planning officers. Findings indicate that mixed use is a celebrated, though ambiguous and changeable concept, with planners identifying such conceptual fluidity as desirable and necessary. Policy is revealed to attach numerous beneficial outcomes to mixed use, including reducing the need to travel and supporting more sustainable modes of transport. However, it continues to be encouraged in only a few locations, primarily town and city centres, whilst it is constrained in many others. This leads the paper to conclude that, within policy, mixed use is a cherished and celebrated concept, but a partially promoted practice.

Keywords: Mixed Use, Planning Policy, Compact City, New Urbanism, Sustainable Development, Land Use Planning, Urban Planning, Spatial Planning, Land Use, Urban Development

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.183-193. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 229.286KB).

Katherine Brookfield

PhD Research Student, Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Environment & Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, South Hampshire, UK

Katherine is a 3rd year interdisciplinary Ph.D. student at the University of Southampton. Her research focuses on residential environments and residents’ quality of life, specifically, how planning policy supports (or otherwise) quality of life. A qualitative approach is taken employing focus groups, interviews and qualitative content analysis of policy. The Ph.D. is interdisciplinary and is funded by a joint Economic and Social Research Council/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council scholarship. Katherine has a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a Masters in Planning Research from the University of Sheffield. Outside academia, Katherine has worked as a Research Analyst at Knight Frank in the Residential Research Team and as a Regeneration Consultant at EC Harris.