A mixed-use permit is a type of zoning permit that allows some combination of residential and commercial use in the same neighborhood or building. Some believe that the combination results in a number of environmental and societal benefits.
Many governments control what sort of development can be pursued in certain areas. To accomplish this, they zone areas for types of development and require permits to build. In the past, certain areas were zoned for homes or businesses, leading to large sections of residences and stores in separate areas. Zoning and permits allow different things in different areas, but mixed-use permits generally allow a certain mix of residential and business development in an area, either in the same building or spread throughout a neighborhood.
Mixed-use permits and zoning can be implemented in a number of ways. In some developments, that might mean that a large building could include a row of street-level businesses, with condominiums upstairs. Some cities may choose to put a group of residences and businesses in close proximity to each other. In other areas, it might mean a live-work situation, in which a business (such as an art studio) could be run from a residence. Mixed-use permits can be customized to almost any planning situation. The variety of options makes mixed-use permits a very dynamic planning tool for shaping the development of a neighborhood.
Mixed-use permits are popular in some urban environments, where the mix of residential and commercial development has shown a number of benefits. Mixed-use development helps residents live closer to business and employers, as well as to essential services and shopping areas. It puts residents close to employers and gives businesses a ready source of nearby customers. This helps reduce both traffic and a dependence on cars, leading to transportation and environmental benefits as well. Including mass transit in mixed-use plans is another way of reducing traffic.
Over the longer term, mixed-use permits can have other advantages. Some urban planners see mixed-use zones as a way of revitalizing previously run-down, neglected areas. By introducing a mix of business and residential use, planners hope to attract people back to areas that were previously underused, such as a downtown district.