Commercial to Residential | Could this impact the current Housing Market?

May 21, 2024

Commercial to Residential properties


Commercial to Residential | Could this change the Housing Market?

In the UK, it is estimated that 165,000 privately owned commercial businesses stand empty in Great Britain at this present moment. Additionally, there are around 110,000 families living in temporary accommodation across the country.

In 2021, the government proposed the idea of changing the use of commercial buildings to residential in the hopes of battling the housing crisis. They have created new permitted development rights for those wishing to convert Class E buildings such as shops, offices, and restaurants into residential properties (Class C3). In this blog, I will cover the advantages and disadvantages of this and what we could expect from this Strategy.

Now more than ever, we have to consider the environmental impact building has on the environment; from building materials to the loss of rural land. This means we can expect some environmental benefits from converting these properties. This strategy will reduce the demand for construction, minimising the environmental impact as it conserves resources and reduces construction waste. Furthermore, by improving the buildings’ features with more energy-efficient alternatives, it reduces the carbon footprint of the property.

It also gives us an opportunity to be creative with the unusual features commercial units have in comparison to a standard new build home. These spaces offer large windows, high ceilings, and open floor plans, making them more appealing to both tenants and homeowners. They can cater to a wide range of different tenants, including young professionals, families, or retirees.

There are advantages to this proposition. The first advantage is that it may bypass previous land restrictions that led to declined applications due to a lack of suitable and affordable housing. Using pre-existing spaces can increase construction opportunities and lead to quicker project turnaround, which is cost-effective. Additionally, it can revitalise run-down areas facing economic challenges and become more appealing to commuters, helping smaller towns even out property values and local government revenue.

However, the process of converting commercial properties to residential is complex. It requires changing zoning and building codes from commercial to residential, which can result in unexpected costs that quickly accumulate, making projects unprofitable for developers. Furthermore, it is uncertain if there would be high demand for these types of properties on the housing market. Factors such as proximity to transport links, local schools, and amenities like grocery stores need to be considered.

For remote workers, it is important to be located near larger communities, as there is an appeal for them to move to these areas.

In summary, we expect that the advantages will outweigh the disadvantage, but only time will tell on this matter. It’ll be interesting to see what ideas developers come up with and we hope to see some great designs on these upcoming projects.

If you are considering a project like this, why not ask us Howe we can help?

We have a team of architects, structural engineers and project managers readily available to assist with your request. Our team are experienced in residential, commercial, education and healthcare, we are a hard-working, ambitious team who are dedicated to understanding our clients’ needs and challenges – and draw on our vast experience, technical knowhow and local knowledge to forge lasting relationships built on mutual trust and respect.

Call or email us at:

020 3102 7701 (London)

01277 223594 (Essex)

01508 405501 (Kent)


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