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From Commercial To Residential: Could A Shop Be Your Next Home?

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In recent years, the UK property market has undergone huge changes. From a stamp duty cut to a huge rush of interest in country properties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK’s housing market has seen a great deal of turbulence. 

Today, there’s a new change on the horizon of the property market. In recent months, the UK has seen an influx of new planning laws designed to make it easier to turn empty shops into flats. Touted as a solution to mass shop closures and a short supply of residential properties, converting shops to homes is a modern solution to a perennial problem. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? 

What are the benefits of this commercial-to-residential conversion? Is this the right solution for you? County Homesearch lifts the lid in our comprehensive guide to this type of conversion- read on to find out more! 

 

What is the new shop-to-home conversion legislation? 

First things first, let’s get into the details of this conversion type. The new legislation, introduced from the first of August 2021, introduces a new permitted development right (PDR) that allows commercial to residential conversions – in other words, the conversion of shops to homes!

The legislation is called ‘Class E to Class C3 commercials’, which refers to the change of commercial, business and service uses (Use Class E) to residential use (Use Class C3) in England.

 

What does ‘Class E’ cover? 

Class E doesn’t just cover retail venues either – the Class E legislation covers shops, offices, gyms, restaurants, workshops and many other types of commercial building – so there’s more flexibility than you might initially think! 

In other words, commercial property owners owning a huge range of properties might find themselves able to convert their venues into flats or houses. So can just anyone owning any of these properties convert them to a residential property? What conditions need to be fulfilled in order for this conversion to take place? 

 

What are the benefits of commercial to residential conversion? 

Commercial to residential conversion might seem like a new step, so it’s important to understand why this type of conversion is allowed – and perhaps more importantly, why it hasn’t been introduced prior to now. According to its supporters, this type of commercial conversion has a number of benefits:

 

 

  • Encourage residential resettlement

Residential conversions like this encourage people to move into city centre spaces, which have historically been overlooked for general residential properties. According to the UK government, who were behind the switch, it is hoped that the move will “help support the creation of much-needed homes while also giving high streets a new lease of life – removing eyesores, transforming unused buildings and making the most of brownfield land”.

 

 

  • Utilise empty or defunct spaces

With a number of businesses having succumbed to the commercial difficulties of the pandemic, empty spaces in city centres are becoming increasingly common. A number of recent high-profile mergers, such as those involving high-street names like TopShop or Debenhams, involve digital assets but not real estate assets – meaning premium city real estate spaces will otherwise be left empty. 

 

 

  • Regenerate city centres 

These changes, it is hoped, will rejuvenate tired city centres – transforming defunct or dilapidated buildings within city centres, which have historically been largely commercial. 

 

Couldn’t developers convert commercial into residential before? 

The short answer is – yes they could, but with a great deal more red tape! Instead of requiring a full planning application, hopeful residential converters can simply be approved via a ‘prior approval’ process, which has been designed to simplify and streamline the process. 

Now, it’s easier than ever to convert a shop into a residential property. So, what do you need to do? 

 

What do I need to do to convert my shop into a house?

In order for a commercial building to change use, it has to have been vacant for three months before you lodge your application to convert it. This is in order to protect successful businesses in these premises from conversion. In addition, existing buildings will need to be 1500 square metres or under in order to be converted – so it’s worth getting out the measuring tape or blueprints before you make a plan!

 

It’s also important to identify potential properties on the market which could enable you to snap up a property ready for conversion. Here at County Homesearch, we can find you the perfect property for your needs. If you’re looking for a Class E property to convert, our expert property finders can help you to locate a suitable space and put you in touch with relevant companies including banks, architects and contractors to help you get that renovation underway! 

 

Finding A Commercial Space To Renovate, With County Homesearch 

With County Homesearch’s property finding experts, identify properties as they come onto the market – or even beforehand! Our experts can view suitable properties for you, identifying them based on your chosen metrics – location, space available, existing internal infrastructure, and more. We can provide video tours, virtual walkthroughs or simply provide accurate reports of the property, before you need to travel to see it. 

With dedicated property finders located all around the UK, we can help you find any number of properties suitable for renovating. Simply find your regional property finder, or get in touch with our administrative team if you’d like to learn more about our services!