The Concept of Mixed Use

For some larger urban areas, increasing emphasis has been given to proactively encouraging a mix of residential and non-residential activities. This is usually associated with new greenfield developments (with associated structure plans), or around major transport nodes in the existing urban area where public transport is a viable alternative and intensification is desirable.

Note that the concept of 'mixed use' means as part of a comprehensively designed development, not the establishment of stand-alone business activities among existing houses in declining residential areas. In contemporary mixed-use developments residential activities are usually established above street level, with compatible low-impact non-residential activities at street level (e.g. cafés, small shops, offices). This is similar to the land-use pattern found in many European cities.

Councils as landowners, and roading and regulatory authorities, can proactively provide for mixed-use development. However, this should be at a rate the host community desires or feels it can accept. Preferred locations are:

  • large greenfield sites as a part of a comprehensive structure planning exercise
  • areas where housing stock is due for replacement or regeneration; and
  • areas readily accessible by frequent public transport.

There also needs to be a commitment by the Council to enhance public spaces in higher-density developments involving mixed uses, particularly in respect to roads, footpaths, street furniture, traffic management, stormwater and sewer upgrading, parking and landscaping.