Swap empty shops for homes, says agency

Shoppers will have noticed some big missing high street names since they returned to the high street after lockdown, and this resulted in a number of empty premises, some of which could potentially be converted into homes.

With high street businesses closing at a rapid rate, research from Keller Williams UK has found that the latest stock of empty shops is enough to provide almost 25,000 homes to a market value of £7.4bn.

Keller Williams analysed the potential square footage of thousands of high street stores used by 38 big retail brands to have ceased trading, or that are due to close this year.

Based on the average square footage of A1 retail space, Keller Williams estimates that these ongoing closures will leave some 19,735,230 sq ft of unused retail space across the UK.

Based on the average home measuring 790 sq ft, Keller Williams calculates this could lead to a potential 24,981 new homes.

Ben Williams, CEO of Keller Williams UK, said: “It’s been incredibly sad to see the demise of the high street hastened due to the pandemic, with many big names shutting their doors for good having been unable to survive months on end with no customer footfall.

“Hopefully, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease we will see a resurgence from the retail sector and some of these former premises can once again be used as intended. However, it’s becoming abundantly clear that we simply don’t shop in the same way we used to and so physical retail outlets are likely to remain largely redundant in many high streets up and down the nation.

“At the same time, we’re seeing a lack of housing stock failing to satisfy the appetites of UK homebuyers, while housebuilders and the government continue to fail year on year in meeting delivery targets.

“Developing unused retail space into housing could be a great way of repopulating our high streets, if only from a social standpoint, while also delivering some sorely needed housing stock to the market.”

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