4 December 2023

Tarah Gear joins CN Forecasting panel with the developer’s perspective on the evolving role of leisure and retail

Milligan’s Tarah Gear joined Danny Crump (Layer Studio), Brook Tahau (Ellandi) and Chair Steve Norris (LSH) for a panel discussion at Construction News Forecasting, hosted in London last week. Bringing different perspectives on ‘the evolving role of leisure, retail and high streets’ the panel covered many topics from urban architecture, through to managing existing retail assets and the way retail and leisure should be considered in new developments.

Tarah highlighted the consumer trends showing an increase in leisure time over the last 60 years and the transition of daily activities shifting between the home and the workplace to more social spaces.

“It’s no longer pertinent to refer to retail and leisure as separate entities” Tarah said, “we have to recognise the collision of retail and leisure but also entertainment and socialising and the fact that many of us, want to do these things in the same spaces.

“As we move from talking about mixed-use to blended use, we need to re-look at the spaces in our built environment. If somewhere is primarily a retail space, how can a customer also socialise or work there? How does a brand use this physical space to really connect with the values of that customer and move the experience beyond a transactional one.”

Tarah also highlighted the importance of markets. Much of the experience Milligan gained owning and operating Camden Lock Market has helped us understand and create ways for markets to become exciting catalysts in placemaking and town centre activation. “High streets and town centres need to shine a light on their USPs, more often than not that means their independents, local entrepreneurs, start-up brands and small businesses – the place you find many of these is in markets.

“In our CreativeTrade concept, we bring makers to the fore, the back of house becomes front of house and the customer is connected with the provenance of what they are buying. They also come away from that ‘retail experience’ with a great story and having made new connections.”