Last month Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement as chancellor and raised several key points which will undoubtedly affect the housing industry going forward. Specifically, he revealed that the Government plans to:
- Ban upfront fees charged by letting agents in England “as soon as possible”
- Invest £2.3bn in a housing infrastructure fund to help provide 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas
- Set aside £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes.
Whilst it is no secret that the UK has a gross under supply of housing, being able to find land in high demand areas suitable for a large number of new build homes is becoming increasingly more difficult. Office to residential conversion provides a practical alternative, making use of unused buildings across the UK which would lend themselves perfectly to residential conversions.
However, the projects can be complex and there may be issues to overcome which don’t come to light until work is underway, such as problems with structure, drainage or plumbing. In addition, older heritage buildings in conservation areas may need many of their original features maintained or restored.
Through our construction company Colmore Tang and their expertise in the area, office to residential conversion has become a core focus for Seven Capital, and the company has now delivered numerous projects of this type. In particular, the development we have recently completed in Liverpool, The Strand, was particularly challenging as it required a ‘sympathetic conversion’ which needed to be undertaken in order to preserve the unique and stunning character of this listed building.
As a heritage building, and when converting from an office to a residential property, many of the original features need to be maintained or restored. This was certainly the case with The Strand which featured wrought iron Crittall style windows popular in the 1960s, as a main feature of the building. Situated opposite the world famous Royal Liver Building, this heritage-led development is also in a conservation area meaning careful planning is involved when converting to a residential property.
Alongside breathing new life into treasured buildings, preventing them from sitting empty and unused, office to residential conversions are also often more appealing from a rental perspective as people can live in what is considered an iconic building. For investors, due to location, projected rental yields and capital growth can be good with office to residential conversions and owning a piece of the area’s history makes for an attractive investment.
In conclusion, the housing shortage and the Government’s new initiative to combat this offers up an opportunity for developers across the UK. Not only do office to residential conversions help meet the housing demand, they also contribute towards the regeneration of inner city communities, serving to maintain the heritage and character of many of the UK’s urban areas and their much loved buildings.