Category Archives: News

Mixed use ground floor – Ouddorp example

This post gives an example of ground-floor living as part of a local/neighbourhood/suburban-sized shopping centre. The South Holland village of Ouddorp provides for a local population of about 6,000 people. The village centre has a good number of shops on the streets surrounding its central church. It also has a similar number of ground floor residential dwellings side by side with these shops and restaurants.

Hamilton’s Operative District Plan has ground floor use rules for Suburban shopping centres that state “No residential activities shall be undertaken at ground-floor level” and “Only retail activities and restaurants shall be located at the ground floor level of buildings within the Primary Frontages” (see Delft post)

Village (suburban) shopper habits can never be taken for granted: consumers can drive to big parking-field box retail stores; or stay at home and shop online; or, in Ouddorp, bike 10 minutes to the village of Goedereede. There will be times when retail floor space demand will increase and decrease. In the mid-1970s, Hamilton city planners wrote:

“a contraction of such centres [Local Shopping] is anticipated … In an effort to speed this process residential dwellings of a similar type to those in the adjacent residential zone are to be permitted [in commercial zone 1: Local Shopping]” (ref 1 for context).

Ouddorp appears to “allow maximum flexibility in land use so that buildings get renovated and economic activities take place to pay the taxes to maintain a high level of services” (ref 2).

The outcome of Ouddorp allowing residential dwellings on primary frontages made photographing the more mixed primary frontages a bit odd. Normally it is easy to snap a quick photo in a public place and move on, which I did in the above photos. However, when I tried this in Ouddrop’s most commercial frontages, the residents there lived with their curtains fully open, so I was taking photos of people more than of the building. These residents ‘people-watch’, just the way people sitting at a cafe table eating and drinking do.

Getting back to the Hamilton ODP, here is a question for city leaders: when does ground floor residential detrimentally affect retail business?

Ref 1 (my emphasis)

Hamilton City District Scheme (Section 1 & 2) first review – Supplementary Report on Commercial areas August 1975 – ref s 711 552 200 931 151 Ham 124+ pages (hard covered book)

Page 21 – Commercial 1 – Local Shopping

  • Objective of the Zone

“This is a zone designed to provide for shops that will be able to meet the day to day shopping requirements of localized areas that are within easy walking distance. In view of the structure of the proposed hierarchy, provision has only been made for those retail activities providing the basic everyday services.

However, in recognition of the existence of some non-retail service activities in proposed Commercial 1 zones, provision has also been made for a limited number of auxiliary service facilities such as hairdressing salons.

It is anticipated that with the development of Commercial hierarchy, the role of this zone [Local Shopping], and service which it will offer, will be able to be taken over in many instances by the single unit dairy grocery.

The Commercial 1 centres [Local Shopping] will service a population of approximately 1,000 within a 400m radius. It is intended that a gross retail floor-space of between 100 and 200m2 will be the typical scale.

It is recognized that a number of centres having a floor-space greater than that which has been established, are zoned Commercial 1. For various reasons such as location in relation to a trade area, proximity to other centres, lack of land for expansion, and the existing character of development, these centres are not seen as warranting a higher zoning. In the long term, as is already being experienced in some cases, a contraction of such centres [Local Shopping] is anticipatedIn an effort to speed this process residential dwellings of a similar type to these in the adjacent residential zone are to be permitted. … Page 22 … The Commercial 1 [Local Shopping] centres are small but widely dispersed throughout residential areas. It is intended that such centres should blend in as well as possible with adjacent residential areas, and therefore the range of uses permitted has been balanced against their potential incompatibility with the residential neighbourhood. For this reason it is proposed that hours of operation be restricted. This is seen as mainly affecting take-away food premises.”

Ref 2 – Zoned in the USA, by Sonia Hirt. Chapter 3 – How others do it – France – page 71 Quote “from French colleague.” 0 Light L

Category: News

Ground floor living – Delft example

A camel travelling through a city centre does not make the city centre a desert, but empty shop fronts do make a city centre feel like a desert, and ground floor living can support a lively city centre.

The two pictures below show the information centre in central Delft. The first picture is looking from the town square, the second from the street behind. Both face ‘Primary and Secondary Active Frontage’ retail streets. Point to note: next door to the information centre is ground floor residential housing; not just front door access, but also their front windows, facing the primary, vibrant, active city centre.

The following is from the Hamilton city Operative District plan, (ODP) (my emphasis)

“Chapter 6 Business 1 to 7 Zones

6.4.7 Residential Development – no residential activities shall be undertaken at ground-floor level. (p23)

7 Central City Zone

7.5.3 Residential – i) Primary and Secondary Active Frontages. On primary and secondary frontages … ground floor pedestrian entrances to upper-floor residential units shall be a maximum width of 4m. Residential units shall not be located at ground floor level on primary frontages. (p29)

13 Rototuna Town Centre Zone

13.8 Rules – General Standards for All Permitted Activities in the Rototuna Town Centre Zone (p15)

13.8.2 Primary Frontages – Only retail activities and restaurants shall be located at the ground floor level of buildings within the Primary Frontages. (p15)

13.8.6 & 13.9.8 Residential Activities in Non-Residential Precincts

a) No residential units (including apartment buildings), residential centres, managed care facilities, rest homes, visitor accommodation or marae shall be located at ground floor level within the Retail, Employment or Community Precincts. (p17&22)”

The photo below is from Delft’s Beestenmarkt, which is an important entertainment centre, with about a dozen restaurants. Here again, we see ground floor residential living.

The Hamilton ODP rules on ground floor activities are the very reason we have inactive frontages in some of our retail centres. If you take the time to look at many market-driven city centres, you will find ground floor frontages with mixed uses. Explanation: retail, like fashion, is always changing; business will go where people want business to be, and presently there is a move to internet shopping, which is changing the value of the retail shop, to the point that existing shops may become affordable for residential living. Over time an increasing inner city population increases the demand for social and retail services, and increases the value of ground floor frontage, making it less affordable to residential tenants. This constant change is the heartbeat of the city.


Above are three pictures of 29 Markt. The first picture is from 2014 here we see it as a shop. However, on my visits to Deft in 2015 and 2018 it was residential. If you visit central Delft you can stop and be shopping within a few metres of this property, because it is located on a primary active frontage.

This last photo again shows residential, retail and restaurants mixing at ground floor level.

Getting back to the Hamilton ODP, here is a question for city leaders: does ground floor residential tend to detrimentally affect retail business?

The Delft publication, The City at Eye Level, Lessons for Street Plinthsh (Second and extended version) (my emphasis) states:

“17. Look at new upcoming functions in areas with vacancy, such as co-working spaces, temporary “meanwhile spaces”, restaurants and cafés, social functions such as elementary schools, and most of all residential living on the ground floor. Due to online shopping, it is clear that we cannot solely rely on shops to create a good public realm.”


Category: News