One of the more positive things about the current crisis is the innovation it could create.
UK Property Forums has held many round table events where we started to hear about multi-level industrial schemes which have begun in other areas. Obviously, the cost and practicality issues are key but if anywhere can produce innovation of this kind, the Thames Valley can.
In a world where online shopping is not only growing at pace, but is given the dual advantages of physical competitors being forced to close and of half empty roads, the need for warehouses is certain to increase but there are often limited options for where to build them
Given that demand, surely those providers and their consultants can come up with more imaginative, intensified uses of land.
A two-storey data centre is planned at Didcot which is presumably relatively easy but it’s tempting to wonder how many storeys you can have in such a scheme. And how the concept can be expended on.
The offices and labs at the University of Oxford’s Beecroft Building, which is nearly as deep below ground as it is above, are a great example of innovation, albeit from an organisation whose pockets are deeper than many of its buildings are tall.
But innovation is springing up in other places. The new Spelthorne Leisure Centre at Staines will have football pitches on the roof although it might have been better to cage them entirely rather than just use high fences along the edges which won’t stop the wildest goal kicks landing on the expensive new electric cars in the car park.
In Reading, we see plans for 36 flats being added to an existing town centre riverside development in a scheme few would have seen coming, but that seems to make a lot of sense. Dukesbridge House is as close as you can get to The Oracle and it looks out over the River Kennet.
As an estate agent told us many years ago, ‘if you can see water from the window, add 20 per cent’. Maybe other agents could comment.
But most of the old factories, built along the banks of rivers in the distant past for transportation, have long since given way to apartment blocks so to build flats on top of an existing building means you get to create penthouses without having to put a spade in the ground.
There must be numerous more innovative schemes in the Thames Valley pipeline so if you are planning one, we’d love to know about it.
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