Developers eye chance to turn old banks and estate agents into new homes

New data has revealed the impact of recent rule changes from the Government that were designed to take advantage of empty high street offices.

August Graham
Tuesday 01 June 2021 00:01
A solitary employee stands by a window in an otherwise empty office
A solitary employee stands by a window in an otherwise empty office

Estate agents who are used to finding new accommodation for customers could be rehousing people in their old offices, as interest in converting them into residential homes has rocketed since planning rules were eased.

Developers have been flocking to check out sites that house financial services firms such as banks, accountants and estate agents.

It follows a change in Government planning rules, which mean that so-called Class E commercial properties will be easier to repurpose into homes.

Data from technology platform LandTech, which allows developers to search for new opportunities, shows that interest in sites occupied by financial services firms skyrocketed 696% in just a month following the announcement of the new rules.

These changes have unlocked an entirely new opportunity for developers, and they're wasting no time in getting started

Jonny Britton, LandTech

There was also a 575% jump in interest in restaurant and cafe buildings and an 80% increase in interest in general offices.

The data was gathered from the searches of 5,000 developers of all sizes who had used LandTech’s platform.

In March, the Government announced the new changes which would make it easier to convert high street businesses into homes, in a bid to use abandoned high street buildings and create much-needed housing.

The LandTech data is an early indication that developers’ interest has been piqued by the change, and shows where they are looking.

“These changes have unlocked an entirely new opportunity for developers, and they’re wasting no time in getting started,” said LandTech co-founder Jonny Britton.

“Not only could this help address the housing shortage in the country, but there’s an added benefit from an architectural perspective – many of these buildings will have decent ceiling height, natural light, and often historical facades – with some even being former Victorian or Edwardian houses previously converted the other way.”

He added: “While searches for professional and financial service properties have increased dramatically, it is from a low starting point. Still, it’s a huge indicator that developers, and the wider industry, are ready to embrace the change.”

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