Walkability and Mixed Use: Making Valuable and Healthy Communities – Comment by Hugh Petter

January 4, 2021

The failure to deliver mixed use development as a matter of course has blighted most development that has taken place in Britain in recent years, leading to the bland, dull monocultural housing estates and dormitory suburbs that blight every corner of our country.   We are told by the Government that we will move rapidly now towards zero carbon.  But, frustratingly, all political focus remains upon the environmental performance of buildings rather than upon creation of dense, mixed use walkable places that not only have low carbon buildings but also, crucially, which will encourage more healthy and low carbon lifestyles.  Until we re-learn how to make better places, our attempts to live a zero carbon life will be thwarted.

Twenty five years ago HRH The Prince of Wales with his Duchy of Cornwall Estate led the counter revolution towards a return to more walkable, mixed use, low carbon sustainable communities, at Poundbury in Dorset.  More recently at Nansledan in Cornwall, where I am acting as both master-planner and coordinating architect, the Duchy and their developer partners are building upon those solid foundations.   Earlier this year, Charlie Dugdale of Knight Frank published Cost and Value and Building in Beauty, two technical reports to accompany the publication of the final report of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission.  His excellent work demonstrates very clearly the added value in both social and economic terms of the approach to development demonstrated at both Poundbury and Nansledan.  More recently Charlie Dugdale has been working with Leon Krier, The Prince’s Foundation, Andy Cameron, Gail Mayhew and Tim Stonor to consider the importance of  delivering mixed uses and walkable neighbourhoods in new developments.  Their admirable report, ‘Walkability and Mixed Use: Making Valuable and Healthy Communities’, should be required reading for anyone with a serious interest in making better places.

Click here to download a pdf of the report.


By Hugh Petter, Director.  January 2021