Permitted development is building the future.
The Construction Industry has always been recognised as a turbulent Industry: However, within the last few years, even with the downfall of certain large construction companies, the sector has stabilised, and certain areas are thriving. Specifically, the area that we specialise in has seen a massive upturn due to the continued Government's support with permitted development. Since May 2013 the rules of Permitted Development have been made more lenient. The change of use from Commercial to Residential has been made possible without the need of planning permission, (there are a few areas with exemption) so companies like ourselves, that specialise in Commercial Conversion or Office Fit-outs are struggling to keep up with demand. The rate of office-to-residential conversions in England went up by nearly 40% between 2016 and 2017 according to estate agents Savills. This area is specifically thriving due to the economic downturn within the retail sector. In recent years we now see more than ever, empty stores on our high streets. This market change is the changing culture itself, consumer spending is heading down the online route rather than a visit to the local high street. The consumer is changing, and we can see already that the high street is having to adapt to customer demands and deliver more of a customer experience linked to lifestyle and wellbeing. Empty stores are being converted into apartments.
With more residential homes on the high street, the consumer wants more entertainment and concept stores rather than numerous retail stores. The high street spending is set to soar by £5.3 bn in the next 5 years (4.9%) according to retail research company Global Data. We can see this already happening with the rise of coffee shops, restaurants and bars and of course the upturn of residential apartments. Research shows there are around 22,000 coffee shops in the UK which are helping to revamp our bleak high streets and it's offering the consumer time to relax and socialise with friends and family, which is also linked to improved mental health and wellbeing which is also constantly in the media.
The Government have recently printed their latest Press Release which sees “£1 billion future High Street Fund expanded to 50 more areas. The scheme is intended to regenerise and transform the high streets helping them to attract new businesses, boost local growth and create new infrastructure, residential homes and jobs. The Government has recently permanently extended the Permitted Development Rights, which means there is no longer a huge rush to get developments or planning completed by May 30th. With the UK population growing at a rate of more than 500,000 people every year, but only half the homes required are built, the Government is looking into the UK Housing Crisis. Apartment living is one solution.
So for any developers, businesses looking at investment opportunities, this is certainly one area that is still developing. The future is looking better for the high street and the generation of apartments from commercial property could help ease the housing crisis and offer an affordable solution.