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  • Mal McCallion

The solution to the UK's home shortage?

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Great article and top analysis in Property Industry Eye this week, regarding the increasing interest in converting no-longer-used commercial property into residential homes.

According to Searchland, a development site sourcing specialist, there are 28,000 properties in England that have 'permitted development rights' to turn from commercial to residential use. These properties have nearly 5m square footage of space currently lying disused but which could, with the right incentives, be turned into accommodation.

At the same time, the analysis does flag-up what is perhaps the most problematic issue with conversions such as these - the small amount of living space that each property might afford. The Office for National Statistics says that the average flat is 483 sq ft (a house is 1,066 sq ft). These commercial-to-residential opportunities are only 170 sq ft on average (157 sq ft in London), nearly two-thirds smaller than the average flat in England.

It's an issue, of course - and it may mean that only a fraction of these properties are actually suitable for human occupation. But even taking that into consideration, any initiative that solves two concurrent issues - here, everyone working from home, whilst at the same time there not being enough homes to work from - is one that should be pursued with the utmost fervour.

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