Research - 16/04/2013

Convert obsolete offices and create 11,500 new homes

11,500 new homes could be created by converting 7.4m sq ft of the UK’s obsolete office stock – according to our latest research, Office Market Review 2013: Addressing obsolescence. If converted, these new homes would fulfil 25% of the total recently pledged by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

Find out more

Read the full Office Market Review 2013 here.

Our research analysed 32 regional markets and found that 27% of total regional availability is obsolete (11.7m sq ft) and of this stock 7.4m sq ft is suitable for conversion.

Modern workplace trends change occupier requirements

Explaining why we have so much obsolete office stock, Tony Fisher, National Head of Office Agency said: “Modern workplace trends have changed office occupier’s requirements – they need flexible, open plan space and crucially less of it.

“Office occupier requirements will continue in this vein, meaning any stock that does not meet modern workplace trends is unlikely to ever be let again and while not every obsolete building can be converted a fair proportion could be.”

Planning permission no longer needed for office to residential conversion

Tony continued: “In the past getting planning permission to convert an office into residential accommodation could be costly and time consuming. This is no longer the case in England following the government’s recent announcement that they will allow office space to be converted without planning permission.”

Top five regional centres with greatest conversion opportunities

Our top five centres from the 32 we analysed, where there are buildings in the right locations, with suitable layouts and residential demand are:
1. Birmingham
2. Edinburgh
3. Nottingham
4. Slough
5. Manchester

Tony said: “Put simply, obsolete office space is a drag on our market and offering investors and developers little or no value. However, the return from converting to residential accommodation is far greater and with the headache of planning permission now removed from England the conversion route is an obvious step for any investor or developer.”

Other highlights from our research included:
• Take-up 9% below 10 year average at 19.4m sq ft
• Take-up of grade A space fell by 36%
• Just over 27% of availability is grade A and the remainder grade B/C
• Rents in the majority of centres remained flat
• Prime rents are below their peak
• Central London markets accounted for 46% of take-up nationally

Our presentation to accompany this research


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