The number of approvals to convert office blocks into homes increased last year, new figures have revealed, reversing a six-year trend of declining activity.
The total number of office buildings approved for conversion to residential housing increased by 24% last year (2021) rising to 1,180 from 950 in the previous year (2020).
Here at Advantage we’re often contacted by potential clients who are converting existing commercial spaces (such as offices or retail spaces) into residential units, and we work with them at every stage of the project to ensure that they have the appropriate cover in place. Office conversions are particularly popular, and at a time when house prices have hit a record high, driven by a shortage of properties on the market, they can, of course, transform redundant office space into prime residential space.
Addressing the under-supply of housing
Financial Reporter notes that:
“It’s accepted across the industry that there is a real imbalance when it comes to the supply of residential property compared to demand from would-be buyers and tenants. For example, according to data from estate agent trade body Propertymark, the average member branch currently has 23 properties on its books.
“However, they also have 590 registered homebuyers, meaning that for every property that goes onto the market there are an average of 26 potential buyers.
“Permitted developments have been a useful, if controversial, tool for correcting this. Allowing the conversion of commercial units into residential homes means more properties for those buyers to take advantage of.”
The Local Government Association calls for more affordable housing
Although creating more housing and finding a new use for under-utilised buildings is broadly welcomed, the Local Government Association has expressed some concerns regarding affordable housing.
More than 18,000 affordable houses have been lost as a result of office-to-residential conversions under permitted development, the Local Government Association has warned.
A total of 73,575 new houses have been converted from offices under permitted development rights, where full planning permission is not required, since 2015.
Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said:
“There is a need for more affordable housing across the country but regrettably premises such as offices, agricultural buildings, shops, restaurants and light industry can now be converted into houses without the need to provide any affordable homes.”