Comment on office to residential conversions
Bob Weston, founder and chairman of Weston Homes, comments: “The Government announcement, which will allow developers to convert offices into buildings for residential use, comes at a critical time in the housing crisis. While the decision to remove planning permission from these types of developments could boost the supply of housing to meet growing demand, the system is still flawed and this is only one small step in the right direction.
“The single biggest barrier to the industry is not the availability of homes but the availability of mortgages. This is halting the property market and will most likely stunt the potentially positive outcomes of the new housing regulation. More properties on the market will not necessarily translate into more owner-occupiers because of mortgage challenges. Until this is fixed, the UK will continue to face the challenges of the housing crisis it is trying to overcome. There is certainly no lack of developments of the right quality and in the right locations, meaning that international investors will continue to recognise UK property as a valuable investment.
“From a personal perspective, conversions are an area of property development I enjoy and as a company we have had a strong track record of successful conversions. The satisfaction of seeing a redundant building turned into impressive new homes is immense. Commercial properties in particular often offer unique industrial character with lots of space, light and high ceilings giving good opportunities for flexible layouts. One of our latest conversions is a block of former offices in a commuter town called Hitchin, just 25 minutes from London King's Cross St Pancras International station. I only hope that the great interest we have seen already will be translated into mortgages and sales.”