Shops Become Houses

Shops Become Houses

Changing Face of the High Street

Ask anyone from any town and the answer will always be the same, the high street wasn’t what it used to be.

In recent years charity shops and discount stores have replaced high street names such as Woolworths and HMV. In order to adapt to the need of the car and the lack of parking spaces on the high street, out of town shopping became mainstream 20 years ago.

A number of retailers are reporting that online sales have now taken over high street sales. There is nothing you cannot get online and the big players such as Amazon have capitalised on this market.

Local councils haven’t helped the high street. High business rates has allowed too many shops to be closed and for them to be replaced by a charity shop or a boarded up shop front.

Now the government has stepped in with a policy allowing greater change of use to support high streets to adapt and diversify, to facilitate more leisure and community uses (such as gyms, libraries and health care) and office use as well as homes. 

This will mean that shops can be replaced by houses. For those landlords that are struggling to let or sell the retail units, they now have an alternative. This seems an obvious strategy to help solve the shortage of properties in the UK (albeit a small one) and reduce the number of empty shops.

Shops Become Houses

So What is Permitted Development?

This is where  planning permission granted by Parliament, not the local council. That means no local council planning is required and property owners can change the use without going through the councils red tape.

For landlords this offers a greater demand for retail units and an opportunity to cash in. The previous shake up in the planning department was the permitted development right s granted for office conversion into residential. Many landlords who had seen their outdated office blocks being kept empty now had the chance to offer the investor a large than average building to be converted into multiple units. 

Commercial buildings can be valued at different prices. If you have Starbucks as a tenant on a 10 year lease, that building will be worth considerably more than an empty shop. But now that empty shop has the potential to be a house, and that alternative use could add value.

The retail landscape might be changing, but where there is change there are opportunities.


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