Recently, more and more buildings that are sitting empty are being converted into living spaces. This trend is occurring around the world, including here in the UK, where developers have been focusing on converting commercial property into residential. Office buildings located in London are being refurbished into studios and apartments. Most of these conversions are happening in Croydon, in South London, where numerous outdated 1960s office buildings are receiving major revamping. The boom is also resulting in the appreciation of housing stock.
Instead of allowing office buildings to sit useless, cities are finding ways to convert them into something people can still use and that helps ease the lack of housing available in many areas.
Change-of-use units are skyrocketing, mainly due to the new lax rules that allow UK developers to avoid conventional planning permission. For instance, the rate of office-to-residential conversions in England went up by nearly 40-percent between 2016 and 2017, according to estate agents Savills. It appears that numerous small businesses have shuttered their operations because of the escalating cost of business rates, leaving these office buildings empty.
Gill Payne, the director of policy and external affairs for the National Housing Federation, says that England is not meeting the demand for the number of properties necessary for residential living and vowed that the government would initially aim to build 1-million new homes by May 2020. That date, however, has been pushed back eight months to December 2020.
Sir Michael Lyons, a former BBC chairman, believes that office-to-home conversions are good for the time being, but that new homes still need to be built. Lyons says that England has been far behind in property development for years, claiming that Great Britain hasn’t built more than 200,000 houses a year for more than 30 years.
For young British people especially, it is not easy buying a home, and the numbers prove that. These days, homeownership among 25 to 34-year olds has shrunk from 58.6% to 36.7%. In 2017, it was reported that affordable housebuilding had fallen to a 24-year low and that homelessness had doubled.
Young people are feeling a loss of independence in England, and statistics show that nearly one million more of them are living with their parents than 20 years ago.
Still, converting office buildings into luxe flats is the new wave and appealing to those residents who can afford them. There are also going to be more affordable options for some of those young people looking for a place to live.