According to law firm Boodle Hatfield, the number of rejected planning applications to convert retail property into residential space rose by 35% in the year to June 2020
One of the biggest property investment trends of the year, driven by the pandemic and the devastation this has caused for the high street, has been a large increase in the number of retail to residential conversions – with buildings that no longer serve their original purpose being turned into housing instead.
However, despite recent government proposals to make this kind of conversion simpler and quicker, research has suggested there could still be issues and obstacles in the way.
According to law firm Boodle Hatfield, the number of rejected planning applications to convert retail property into residential space rose by 35% in the year to June 2020.
Boodle Hatfield revealed that the percentage of applications for retail to residential conversions rejected by local authorities increased from 34% to 39% in the year to the end of June 2020 (in 2018/19 – 141 out of 419 applications were rejected compared to 191 out of 485 up to June, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).
The firm says there is now a huge opportunity to convert redundant retail space into high-quality residential homes – with the retail sector, already struggling with rising rent costs and the switch to e-commerce, being dealt a further blow by the pandemic and its associated lockdowns and restrictions.
Land Securities, the UK’s largest property company, recently announced plans to convert some of its retail space, which makes up the majority of its current property portfolio, into residential homes.
Meanwhile, property developer Ballymore recently acquired the Broadwalk Shopping Centre in North London with the intention of converting a large proportion of the site into homes.
Elsewhere, John Lewis has announced its plan to move into the Build to Rent sector – building and furnishing private rental properties on existing or new sites – while one of the biggest commercial property operators in the country recently revealed it is to build 338 apartments to rent on the site of a vacated Debenhams store, likely to be Build to Rent units managed by BTR operator Packaged Living.
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