In response to your recent leader article ‘Postmodern planning reform’, I thought I’d share my views on the current ‘planning apartheid’.

The Stirling Prize for the best building of 2021 went to The Townhouse of Kingston University. According to the judges, its winning feature was how the building engaged with its neighbourhood by creating substantial public facilities. These included food and beverage outlets open to the general public, who are encouraged to enter and engage with the library and dance studios within.

The question is: what land use is attributable to such a building? Mixed-use (Class E), surely, as it transcends the simplicity of ‘educational’ land use.

The same is true of the new generation of hotels with their extensive co-working, leisure and even retail outlets as well as traditional food and beverage.

So it is for co-living, co-working, build-to-rent, student and pretty well every other new building as hospitality becomes ubiquitous in a mixed-use land model.

Why, then, are authorities still enforcing planning apartheid with designated land uses of a past era?

Investors have long since migrated from a single-use property focus, and indeed Covid proved the sense in a mixed-use model as different uses were affected to different extents in the lockdown.

The City, with its total focus on offices, was largely deserted during lockdown, whereas the West End and other neighbourhoods with a mix of living, shopping, working and recreation fared better.

Class E is a move in the right direction but with our use of buildings in a more liberal mix of staying, living, working, retailing and recreating, is it not time for a broader dismantling of the dinosaur land use designation system? Or should we use Class E for ‘everything’?

Dexter Moren, partner, Studio Moren