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Industry Insight Episode 7 | High Street Demise Creates Housing Opportunity Uncovered

Industry Insight Episode 7

Industry Insight Episode 7 Specialist Network Connect

In the event you missed our previous episodes, please see our catch-up episodes below:

Industry Insight Episode 7, we are discussing the topic “New Housing Options Post-Covid-19”

Industry Insight Episode 7 | Repurposed retail premises set to help ease housing crisis

As we head towards the anniversary of the first lockdown, it’s hard to escape the ongoing social and economic impact of Covid-19. From a commercial perspective, you only have to step outside to see real-life examples. The empty, non-viable retail units now lining our high streets are a case in point.

Retail has been hit hard, with big names and small family businesses going to the wall every week over the last 12 months. Empty shop units are now commonplace in the length and breadth of the country, but what new opportunities are being created from this situation? Could this redundant space be harnessed to ease the UK’s housing shortage and provide new mortgage opportunities?

Industry Insight Episode 7 | The background

Over 11,000 chain store outlets shut between January and June 2020, according to research by the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC. You will recall that the sector’s sustainability was put under increased pressure from March when the first lockdown was introduced and only ‘essential’ shops could remain open.

The same research found that York was the worst affected area, with a net loss of 55 outlets. Harpenden, where our Society is based in Hertfordshire, interestingly bucked the overall negative trend and fared better with a net increase in stores. Although we are a locally based building society, we serve brokers across the entire UK, so we continually assess far-reaching trends affecting new housing and mortgage lending opportunities.

Industry Insight Episode 7 | Wider Housing Options

Adapting redundant retail units into residential properties could be one answer for repurposing a prime location and converting it into much-needed housing. Work has already started in many high streets, with formerly dedicated shops being converted to split retail/residential dwellings or a complete change of use, becoming flats and apartments.

Industry Insight Episode 7 | Changes in planning

With permitted development rights relaxed in recent years, allowing offices, pubs and other redundant buildings to become housing, we will see more flexibility when it comes to a change of use for unviable retail units. Advancing building techniques such as ‘modular’ construction also makes it easier for retail space to convert into residential dwellings quickly.

Industry Insight Episode 7 | Opportunities for the Mortgage Industry

Connect For IntermediariesSo, as we begin to enter a post-pandemic era, house-building firms will potentially have access to new development opportunities through the shop closures previously mentioned. Mortgage brokers, too, will have increased options to service the customers buying into this pioneering type of development. For all of us supporting the property market, we must prepare and ensure we are ready to service new openings like this.

Future mortgage applications may look different as a new breed of property comes onto the market. However, we all serving the industry have a great opportunity to grow our business through this new situation.

Specialist lenders, like ourselves, who manually underwrite every mortgage application, are ready to help access this emerging market smoothly and ensure this new opportunity can be harnessed efficiently and smoothly. We’re ready for change!

Credit: Craig Middleton – Mortgage Sales and Distribution Manager, Harpenden Building Society | Industry Insight Episode 7. We’ve reached the end of our publication; until next time, stay Connect!

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