In time of shifting economic fortunes, the flexible use and re-use of space and buildings can play a valuable part in helping local businesses and other agencies to survive and flourish.
It sometimes seems as if ‘temporary use’ is a contemporary phenomenon associated with the 2008 economic recession. This may not be true, but there’s certainly been a significant recent emphasis on how planners can use redundant spaces and assets to help local economies and town centres resist the depression and thrive.
The spin-off benefits – often associated with arts, third sector organisations and community development – are not trivial either, as was illustrated in the Compendium for the Civic Economy for instance.
Now we have some research, recommendations and a charter to show our local planners and regen officials, thanks to the SEEDS project (‘Stimulating Enterprising Environments for Development and Sustainability’), a European Regional Development Fund initiative.
The argument is that temporary use and re-use should not be seen as a short-term sticking plaster solution, but has to be written into town and city planning if local economies are to grow and thrive; and this requires something of a mindset shift among planners and policy-makers. So it’s a bit like the old problem of formalising the informal – make ephemerality a permanent feature of policy and practice.