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Housing the creative sector

A comparative study of Paintworks, Bristol and Baltic Triangle, Liverpool

This project examines potential innovations in the housing sector. Paintworks in Bristol and Baltic Triangle in Liverpool were chosen as case studies. Both cases used to be obsolete industrial sites and now have undergone a relatively successful regeneration process by attracting the high-tech and/or the creative sectors.

International literature on the creative class points to their desire for a better life-work balance, personalised designs and urban amenities. So, the pressure on the housing sector to provide innovative products and services is presumably higher in these types of cases. This project started with this hypothesis and explored the mixed-use housing, the locations of housing provision, and the modes of provision in Paintworks and Baltic.

Findings from 12 interviews with key local stakeholders are surprising, as they went against the hypothesis and the literature on the creative class. These findings are summarised as follows:

In terms of mixed-use housing:

  • Risk-aversion applied in both housing construction and financing.
  • The lack of supportive regulations and the potential complexities involved in taxation discourages innovative in housing production.
  • On the demand side, there is a ‘sticky’ preference for traditional housing.
  • These inertias in housing supply and demand, therefore, underline the context-specific nature of the presumed housing preferences of the creative classes.

Regarding the locations of housing supply:

  • Both cases emphasised mixed land use as a way of building sustainable communities.
  • Nevertheless, the potential mismatch between live and work still existed, as people who bought the houses or apartments were often not those who worked there.
  • A certain degree of speculation could be detected in both cases.
  • The prevalence of fractional sales further impacted on the confidence of investors.

In terms of the mode of housing provision:

  • The two cases diverged noticeably in terms of housing tenure, housing providers and the role of the planning authorities in this process.
  • Despite these divergences, a tightening of planning controls in both cases was partially the result of the growing success and wider exposure of these two cases.

Author: Dr Julie T Miao (University of Melbourne)


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Date: September 10, 2019 12:01 am

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