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here is little doubt that leisure is the number one

topic on everyone’s lips when it comes to meanwhile

uses; whether it be SecretCinema taking over the former

printing press in British Land’s Canada Water development

(a use that delivered one of the highest grossing ‘cinemas’

of the first half of 2015, which is impressive given its one

screen and 30-year old film) or BoxPark Croydon which

has firmly jettisoned Croydon back into the big-league of

London locations. To create a successful place you need

activity, energy and most importantly soul.

In new developments meanwhile leisure uses are

increasingly becoming the best medium of creating that

soul. Landlords and developers need to identify both

the local heritage of the area, but also the future target

stakeholders of a location before choosing their use.

BoxPark Croydon is an excellent example; Croydon was

completely devoid of any food culture and BoxPark’s

significant expansion from their first iteration in Shoreditch

has been an overwhelming success at first glance. The

combination of food, music, cultural exhibitions and events

such as FightKlub fitness has created a sense of place in a

long forgotten corner of London.

Further afield, some have looked to PaperIsland

(Papirøen) in Copenhagen as a blueprint for meanwhile

uses; the whole area is a long term redevelopment site and

the occupiers only having term certain until 2017; while the

anchor is again food with the Copenhagen Street Food

market, other creative industries such as Danish designer

Henrik Vibskov have settled adjacent to start to build the

sense of place.

These uses are not always easy to deliver: challenging

planning laws, costs of development with limited

potential financial return, lack of long-term security for

the operators and often quirky space at the very earliest

stages of development mean the only way to integrate

these uses successfully is via a truly collaborative approach

between occupier, landlord and the local authorities. If

this approach is successful we will only see more and

more meanwhile leisure popping up across London’s

regeneration schemes.


a Leisurely Use

By Thomas Rose,


Head of Leisure & Restaurants

Apple’s headquarters in London’s Battersea Power Station

‘c’, can help attract businesses and

people to our cities, cluster creative

industries inside cultural districts,

offer fine grain ideas for creative

neighbourhoods and reinvent

the purpose of contemporary

‘downtowns’. The time of the Cultural

City is upon us and yet ‘culture’ is

still frustratingly peripheral to our

urban planning process. The top-

down model persists: a pyramid

model, with the developer and

architect at the top offering both

‘vision and solution’. But the pyramid

needs to be upturned, with vision,

narrative, content, placemaking

and community providing a trickle

down narrative to those whose job

it is to design and deliver our urban

centres. I would call this ‘Cultural

Masterplanning’ and push for a

‘software over hardware’ approach

to planning and development.

However, it’s not just about the

property sector. Sixty years of public

funding for the arts has had an

unfortunate side effect. It has made

the arts focus on their survival through

government and agency funding and

endless grant applications. To make

matters worse, sponsorship, European

and Lottery funding are diminishing or

being spread too thin. The sector has

created its own language, structure

and reward. The arts yearn for the tax

breaks and big bucks philanthropy

of the US but seem blind to the

opportunities on its doorstep.

In a world where the interchange

of disciplines is becoming the norm

and a media-savvy public use social

media as a tool to circumvent more

traditional means of information

and persuasion, new disciplines and

approaches are needed, cities are

now ‘factories for ideas’, IP rules and

place is both King and Queen, ‘long

live the Cultural City’.