What Does The Future of Commercial Property Look Like?


Life After Freedom Day

The long-awaited Freedom Day took place on July 19th, and now it’s time for the UK to face up to what the future might hold for our commercial properties. It’s fair to say that the pandemic has forced companies to assess whether having an office base is essential to their business model. The same can be said of employees who have now had their taste of a better work-life balance and aren’t so keen to give it up and return to the city centres. What does all this mean for commercial property? Our commercial property solicitor Essex team take a look.

A tsunami of closures

Although Brits have enjoyed heading back to their favourite coffee shops, restaurants and shops, unfortunately it’s been a case of ‘too little, too late’ for many businesses. A report created by Bill Grimsey, the former head of Wickes and Iceland, has revealed that 150,000 small businesses have hit a collective £2.3bn in debt, which is an increase from the £500 million owed before the pandemic. The debt consists largely of rent debt and government-backed loans which businesses are now struggling to keep on top of. It’s not just small businesses who are struggling either, with larger names such as the Arcadia Group, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Monsoon all going into administration during the pandemic.

Who will take on these vacant properties?

The UK high street had seen declining figures for many years, thanks to the rise of ecommerce. This was a trend that skyrocketed during the pandemic of course, and many remote workers are happy to continue ordering goods online rather than hitting the shops. So, if many high street shops are expected to close permanently, what will happen to the premises they’ve left behind?

Towns and city centres are expected to evolve in the coming months. In particular, commercial property conveyancing solicitors are inundated with requests for advice on the changing rules regarding commercial-to-residential conversions. From 1st August, a new Whitehall plan will allow developers and landlords to rapidly turn their vacant commercial premises into houses or flats. Removing the red tape from this formerly complex process is expected to create plenty of opportunities for residents to live in central locations which are convenient to them. This should in turn slow the mass exodus from urban to rural life that has occurred since Covid-19 first took hold.

Commercial property solicitor firms are also being approached by buyers who wish to snap up these vacant properties and turn them into different types of leisure facilities to attract more visitors. For example, Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent plans to install a zip wire to entice people to the area.

Contact our commercial property solicitor Essex team

Whether you’re buying or selling vacant premises or wish to repurpose the space entirely, our commercial property conveyancing solicitors have more than 40 years of experience in the industry. Get in touch with our legal professionals and we can talk you through any implications, restrictions and possibilities you need to know about. Call us today on 01268 692 255 or email info@hookandpartners.com.