Lack of Demand for Office Space Creates Fresh Investment Opportunities

Whether it is in London or any other area of the UK, there is still plenty of opportunities for investment in property. There is still a considerable demand out there for housing but with such little supply, it has meant that prices are being driven upwards.

From an investors perspective, if finding that right property for investment is difficult, there is always another option. This option is to change the use of a property from an Office to Residential. Due to a lack of demand for commercial property, it has meant that many offices are left empty. Therefore, this downturn in the commercial sector opens doors and opportunities in the residential sector.

This is something that many investors are now turning to and that proves that it is a feasible idea that has lots of potential. So, how can you capitalise on this exciting investment opportunity?

If the idea of applying for planning permission is something that has turned you away from exploring this option then it may not be a requirement. You might not require planning permission for a Change of Use from an office to Residential which is also known as B1 t C3, which means you can change offices or retail units into flats.

How is this possible?

The government has put a scheme in place known as Permitted Development Right and this enables certain change of uses to take place without the need to apply for planning permission. Under this scheme, it is possible to change an office use to residential use. So, this makes the planning process more efficient, however, as expected, there are considerations that have to be made. It is not possible to convert every office space into housing and that is something that will have to be researched as part of the process.

So, if you want to make the change, then you will need to make a Prior Approval Application. This will need to include drawings as well as all relevant supporting documents that include the impact on highways and transport, the risks of contamination as well as the noise impact your development will have along with the flood risks.

If your property falls in line with the Prior Approval process, it will mean that you can move your development forward without the need to meet any other planning requirements.

At this point, you will then need to work with planning consultants and architects to make the most of the space you have. This will enable you to create a property that is not only habitable but appealing at the same time.

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Change of Use – How Long Does the Council Take?

As soon as your plans have been drawn up by planners and architects, they can be submitted for Prior Approval to your council. From this point, the council will have 56 days to make its decision. Once approval has been given, you will then have the chance to start work on your investment, converting your office space into homes.

What should I consider?

There is no doubt that there are investment opportunities available. When you consider the demise of the high street, it is clear to see just why so many opportunities become available.

However, what you will need to consider is the quality of housing that you plan to create.

The Royal Town Planning Institute believe that the Permitted Development rights are being used incorrectly and as a way of delivering low-quality housing that is located in undesirable areas. Therefore, you will need to ensure that your project consists of high-quality accommodation that also meets the requirements of the Existing Permitted Development Guidelines. Therefore, it has to meet space standards and also integrate seamlessly into the surrounding area.

Why is this an investment opportunity?

The commercial sector has taken a slight hit in recent years. From small start-ups to mid-sized businesses, all have felt the pinch; especially with the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit. Many of these offices are in inconvenient locations for businesses yet from a residential perspective, they would work brilliantly. As offices lay derelict and unused for months or maybe years, the landlords either want to sell them on or they have plans to change their use. Despite the concerns over Brexit, there is still a demand for housing.

To meet this demand without having to build brand new housing, a Change of Use is a great way to make use of something that already exists. With the shell of the property in place, it is a case of making the necessary changes inside so that it becomes housing.

Investors can then meet the demand for property and make their investment work hard for them.

To make sure that you make the right choices and do everything correctly, it is important that you obtain the correct advice. This will ensure that the entire process is efficient and simple. Without a need for planning permission, you could make a change and begin benefitting from what was once a disused office by turning it into high-quality housing that appeals to those who are looking to get onto the property ladder.

If creating your own housing development sounds far fetched, Aspen Woolf have been identifying wealth building opportunities in the residential sector for over 15 years. Contact us or visit our UK property investments section to see what we have to offer.