Real Estate Adaptation and Innovation within an Integrated Retailing System

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Social Sciences

Abstract

The retail sector is crucial to the economic health and vitality of towns and cities and is a core component of the national economy, but is experiencing an ongoing period of change and the challenges faced by centres are being met in different ways, with different outcomes. Consumers are behaving, shopping and using urban centres in new and diverse ways and many retailing centres have experienced falling footfall, retailer closures and a rise in empty retail units. In an attempt to reverse the cycle of decline, centres need to be multi-functional places and policy-makers are encouraging more mixed use development. Large-scale mixed-use re-development of obsolete stock, novel temporary land uses, events and public realm works are being used to try to make urban centres more attractive and increase their competitive edge. Yet, not everyone is experiencing the benefits of these changes. Mistrust, tension and conflict can arise from land use changes and become barriers to further renewal and change, limiting the effectiveness of these "town centre first" policies. A recent ESRC-funded study undertaken by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University blamed these tensions and lack of co-operation as significant contributors to the continued declined of retailing in many centres (Parker, 2015).

This project seeks to explore one of the largest stakeholder groups within the sector. The objectives and behaviour of land and property owners, developers and investors are significant to the use and form of retailing centres. The project explores how ownership and the behaviour of this stakeholder group impact on the sector, by exploring issues around changing ownership and use patterns; innovations in design form; the ability of the industry to respond to change; and the ways the group engages and interacts with other stakeholders in urban centres. Thus, it aims to examine how their expectations, perceptions, practices and co-operation help or limit experimentation with new uses, building types and designs.

The research will explore issues around: whether retailers and landlords in city centres are becoming more or less diverse; whether new design formats, flexible uses and large scale redevelopments can help struggling centres; the extent to which established practices and procedures in the real estate market encourage or even hinder new uses; and whether stakeholders can work together in better ways for the future health of town and city centres. These issues will be examined using five case study cities over the period 1997-2017: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield and Nottingham.

The project will bring together different data that has not been available previously, to map, measure and identify any links between changes in land and building use, vacancy and ownership over the last 20 years. It will analyse and identify new developments and novel land and building uses and designs and, by talking to developers, designers, planners and occupiers, the researchers will identify the factors shaping these changes and how they impact on cities and shoppers. The project will examine established real estate market practices, such as lease lengths, rent review terms, repair obligations and use clauses to see how adaptable the industry is to change when shoppers and retailers want new and unusual property uses and forms. Finally, the researchers will talk to different centre users, managers and owners to explore how relationships might work well or badly and identify good practice for the creation of new developments and adaptions to the existing building stock to help the retail sector in cities.

Planned Impact

As well as scholarly gains, the research will inform and offer benefits to a range of users and actors across the public, private and third sectors, including: (1) governance and stewardship stakeholders; (2) property occupiers and managers, and social and voluntary enterprises; and (3) end-users, including the general public as shoppers, residents, workers and visitors.

By working with key decision-makers and other stakeholders via the project partners, professional networks and Project Steering Group, the findings of the research will directly inform practice and behaviour. The majority of the individuals that will be involved have duties, caseloads and networks beyond the case study areas. For example, the identification and dissemination of good practice will directly benefit city centre managers and public sector local authorities in and beyond the five case study cities via liaison with networks such as the Association of Town Centre Management, for example. It will be further disseminated to national planning and economic development policy-makers, to provide specific insights into how the processes of adaptation and renewal in retail markets may be facilitated and expedited. The good practice will make recommendations relating to design, use and ownership patterns and how assemblages and power relations influence the speed of adaptation and the effectiveness of local and national policies. The findings will both inform the evaluation of historic and current policy initiatives, and how new innovations in urban form may be fostered to create resilient retailing destinations, support adaptation, and improve the management and use of existing stock. This guidance will contribute to the development of retail, design and urban governance policies to address barriers to urban renewal and facilitate greater resilience in urban centres. The effectiveness of such policies will be of interest at the international level as the decline of retailing centres is a problem common across many countries, especially within the Global North.

In the private sector, the project will be of benefit to asset managers, fund managers, property managers and project development managers operating and investing in regional markets, with the findings and recommendations of relevance and applicability to the London and international markets. The research will extend knowledge and understanding of solutions to retail obsolescence, urban decline and regeneration challenges provided by design and use innovations, and how these adaptations may be facilitated through critical reflection on the responsiveness and adaptability of property and design practice. Increased levels of adaptability may relate to more flexible leasing approaches, including lease terms, repairing and maintenance responsibilities within shorter leases and this may impact on adaptability in rating assessments and liabilities, and investment viability. Such changes may be required to see enhanced responsiveness within professional practices as occupiers, users and usage patterns change quickly.

The findings of the research will also provide details of the possible polarised impact of new retail developments on local stakeholders, as well as the nature of social structures and power relations within the local urban economy. Enhanced understanding of the impact of developments will enable suggestions on how to improve practices of engagement between private sector, public sector and third sector interests and with the local community. Better community and local enterprise advocacy offers potential for collaboration and partnership to find ways to deliver desirable and more effective urban renewal projects. More attractive urban places, greater property market vitality, improved social spaces, and better connected and complimentary land uses, driven by the findings of this study, have potential to benefit all those managing, investing in, living, working and using urban centres.
 
Title Occupation and Ownership Stock Database for Edinburgh's Principal Retail Area 
Description This unique database has been constructed by linking existing secondary data sources. It covers all the non-domestic properties listed by the Scottish Valuation Office within the principal retailing area within Edinburgh's city centre, and includes the details of known owners and occupiers at 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Where the data is held or occupied by a private individual then it has been categorised as such with the name of any individual not held so as to be GDPR complaint. In its current working form the database contains raw data with strict licence conditions that stipulate it cannot be shared with others. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is still undergoing development but is now sufficiently develop and being used to examine the spatial diversity of land use and ownership within the principal retailing area of Edinburgh. 
 
Title Occupation and Ownership Stock Database for Glasgow's Principal Retail Area 
Description This unique database has been constructed by linking existing secondary data sources. It covers all the non-domestic properties listed by the Scottish Valuation Office within the principal retailing area within Glasgow's city centre, and includes the details of known owners and occupiers at 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Where the data is held or occupied by a private individual then it has been categorised as such with the name of any individual not held so as to be GDPR complaint. In its current working form the database contains raw data with strict licence conditions that stipulate it cannot be shared with others. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is still undergoing development but is now sufficiently develop and being used to examine the spatial diversity of land use and ownership within the principal retailing area of Glasgow. 
 
Title Occupation and Ownership Stock Database for Hull's Principal Retail Area 
Description This unique database has been constructed by linking existing secondary data sources. It covers all the non-domestic properties listed by the Valuation Office Agency in 2010 and 2017 within the principal retailing area within Hull's city centre, and includes the details of known owners and occupiers at 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Where the data is held or occupied by a private individual then it has been categorised as such with the name of any individual not held so as to be GDPR complaint. In its current working form the database contains raw data with strict licence conditions that stipulate it cannot be shared with others. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is still undergoing development but is now sufficiently develop and being used to examine the spatial diversity of land use and ownership within the principal retailing area of Hull. 
 
Title Occupation and Ownership Stock Database for Liverpool's Principal Retail Area 
Description This unique database has been constructed by linking existing secondary data sources. It covers all the non-domestic properties listed by the Valuation Office Agency in 2010 and 2017 within the principal retailing area within Liverpool's city centre, and includes the details of known owners and occupiers at 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Where the data is held or occupied by a private individual then it has been categorised as such with the name of any individual not held so as to be GDPR complaint. In its current working form the database contains raw data with strict licence conditions that stipulate it cannot be shared with others. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is still undergoing development but is now sufficiently develop and being used to examine the spatial diversity of land use and ownership within the principal retailing area of Liverpool. 
 
Title Occupation and Ownership Stock Database for Nottingham's Principal Retail Area 
Description This unique database has been constructed by linking existing secondary data sources. It covers all the non-domestic properties listed by the Valuation Office Agency in 2010 and 2017 within the principal retailing area within Nottingham's city centre, and includes the details of known owners and occupiers at 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. Where the data is held or occupied by a private individual then it has been categorised as such with the name of any individual not held so as to be GDPR complaint. In its current working form the database contains raw data with strict licence conditions that stipulate it cannot be shared with others. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is still undergoing development but is now sufficiently develop and being used to examine the spatial diversity of land use and ownership within the principal retailing area of Nottingham. 
 
Description REVO 
Organisation Revo
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Dr Orr and Dr White are invited member of REVO, attending seminar events and contributing to the debate on the challenges facing town centre
Collaborator Contribution The Scottish Chairman has agreed to join the REPAIR Project Steering Group, providing his expertise to guide the design of the research.
Impact No impact, yet.
Start Year 2018
 
Description RICS 
Organisation Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Dr Orr has contributed her expertise in this partnership. This includes biannually reviewing grants submitted to the RICS Research Trust and they have nominated her as one of their representatives for REF2021. Dr Orr also sits on the RICS Scotland Education Forum.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have agreed to provide facilities to host future dissemination events.
Impact No outcomes, as yet from the collaboration directly related to this research project.
Start Year 2018
 
Description RTPI 
Organisation Royal Town Planning Institute RTPI
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution James White, a member of the research team, is a Chartered Town Planner and a Member of the Urban Design Group. He has provided expertise to the RTPI and related organisations, including his membership of West Dunbartonshire's Urban Design and Place Panel. Joanna Stewart, a licentiate member of the RTPI, has contributed to the organisation of Planning Aid Scotland engagement events.
Collaborator Contribution RTPI will provide facilities for a seminar event and will promotion the research through their established networks.
Impact No outputs or outcomes, yet, from the collaboration directly related to this project.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UBDC Data Provision 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Urban Big Data Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Dr White successfully bid for a University of Glasgow College of Social Science Scholarship (Measuring the Social Life of the City) which he jointly supervises with Dr David McArthur and Dr Mark Livingston. The PhD student who was appointed to this scholarship position is based in UBDC and is using secondary data. Dr Orr and Dr White are also currently in discussions with UBDC researchers around a future grant application evaluating the impact of the Avenue public realm/transportation in Glasgow's city centre to the surrounding land use whereas Dr Stewart collaborated with Dr David McArthur and Dr Jin Hong a study into the influence of safe cycling infrastructure on the behaviour of cyclists.
Collaborator Contribution UBDC, based at the University of Glasgow, have sourced and purchased data for the first phrase of this research project. This includes data from Springboard, Experian Goad Plans, Land Registers, Lothian Valuation Office and Glasgow Valuation Office.
Impact Hong, J., McArthur, D.P., Stewart, J.L. (2020) "Can providing safe cycling infrastructure encourage people to cycle more when it rains? The use of crowdsourced cycling data (Strava)" Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 133 (2020) 109-121. Livingston, M, McArthur, D and White, D (2019) successful superviser-led University of Glasgow College of Social Science Scholarship application entitled 'Measuring the Social Life of the City'. PhD student started September 2019.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Established Twitter Channel 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact There were 72 followers of @ResearchREPAIR recruited in the first three months with 72 tweets contributing to the discussion on the High Street and urban change. This includes contributing to the High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 Inquiry with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee tweeting and retweeting tweets made @ResearchREPAIR. Over the first year of the project the number of followers has risen to 112. We have tweeted over 204 times, and our tweets have been seen 107,000 times (some of which will be our followers and some will be other twitter users).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://twitter.com/researchREPAIR
 
Description Launch of REPAIR Project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The REPAIR project website was launched on 2nd November 2018 with around 60 individuals visiting the site in its first 3 months. The purpose of the website is to raise awareness of the research and is being used to disseminate information on upcoming engagement and dissemination events and the details of project outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL http://www.repairresearch.net
 
Description Publication of blog articles 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A blog is published on our project webpage. The purpose of this is to link into the ongoing debate around the High Street, how to manage the changes experienced in our towns and cities and examine the implications for occupiers, professional practice and property owners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL http://www.repairresearch.net/blog/
 
Description Radio Interview (Clyde Radio) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A radio interview was given by a member of the research team (Dr James White) on 6th December 2019 with Clyde Radio about the Glasgow City Council's draft City Centre Strategic Development Framework 2050. The discussion was in relation to the new liveability strategy for Glasgow City Centre and Dr White presented a critical evaluation of the proposal to adapt the centre from predominantly retailing and office use to neighbourhoods. The purpose of the news feature was to encourage local residents to feed their views into the consultation process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://planetradio.co.uk/clyde/local/news/glasgow-city-centre-revamp-consultation/
 
Description Stakeholder Meeting (Glasgow) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A Stakeholder meeting took place with Scottish Chair of Revo who is a Glasgow based architect to discuss the changes taking place in the retail market in Glasgow. The stakeholder meeting has two purposes: to collect information on recent innovative changes to in-town retail units and shopping centres and identify relevant local stakeholders. This information has informed the selection of innovation case studies for WPB and will shape the purposive sampling processes to be used to recruit participants for the primary data collection for WPB and WPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder Meeting (Liverpool) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A meeting took place with the former Head of Planning at Liverpool City Council to discuss the changes taking place in the retail market in Liverpool, identify suitable innovations occurring in the market and identify relevant stakeholders. The views collected has helped identify possible innovative case studies for WPB, and will inform the recruitment participant process for WPB and WPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder Meeting (Nottingham) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A meeting took place with the Senior Research Associate, National Retail Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University to discuss the changes taking place in the retail market in Nottingham and across the country, and identify relevant local stakeholders. The views collected has helped identify possible innovative case studies for WPB, and will inform the recruitment participant processes to be used for WPB and WPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder Meetings (Edinburgh) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Two separate interviews took place with policymakers in Edinburgh - one with the Planning Convenor at Edinburgh City Council and the other with the manager from Edinburgh World Heritage. The purposes of these stakeholder meetings were to discuss the changes taking place in the retail market in Edinburgh, identify suitable innovations occurring in the market and identify other stakeholders. The information collected has helped the research team understand the specific constraints on development in the city, identify possible innovative case studies for WPB, and will inform the recruitment participant processes to be employed in the collection of primary data for WPB and WPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder Meetings (Hull) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Two meetings took place with policymakers in Hull - one with the Assistant Director of Invest Hull and one with the Director of Regeneration at Hull City Council. These stakeholder meetings were to discuss the changes taking place in the retail market in Hull, identify suitable innovations occurring in the market and identify relevant stakeholders for primary data collection. The views collected has helped identify possible innovative case studies for WPB, and will inform the recruitment participant processes for WPB and WPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Steering Group Meetings (June and December 2019) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A Project Steering Group has been established for the REPAIR Project, consisting of 7 professional practitioners and 1 academic. Two meetings took place in 2019.
Four of the Steering Group members attended for the first group meeting (June) with the purpose to co-produce a working definition of the case study retailing areas for the WPA analyses and to discuss the factors currently affecting the retailing market for consideration by the researchers. The second meeting (December) was attended by six of the members who reviewed and provided advice on finalising the innovation selection criteria for WPB and contribute to the design of the themes to be used in the abductive thematic analysis to be used for WPC. Steering group members were also present at two team meetings during the year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019