Developers think more office-to-resi conversions likely, but will do little to plug housing supply gap

Property developers think we’re likely to see an increase in the number of office buildings converted into homes over the next couple of years.

In a survey commissioned by Amicus Property Finance (APF), 74% of property developers said they expected to see an increase in conversions over the next two years as a result of the Government’s decision to extend property development rights (PDR) legislation.

Of these, nearly a third (30%) of developers expect to see a significant growth in PDR-related conversion schemes.

More than two thirds (69%) of property developers welcome the PDR extension, which was designed to enable thousands of new homes to be built by making use of neglected industrial and office property while preserving the green belt.

In the UK between July 2015 and June 20163, a total of 1,066 office to residential permitted development applications were permitted with prior approval not required and a further 1,480 applications granted with prior approval.

Despite the predicted growth in PDR-enabled conversions, only 4% of property developers believe this will have a major impact in addressing the UK’s housing shortage with the overwhelming majority (86%) thinking it will help only slightly towards narrowing the gap.

Property developers are also sceptical of the Government’s target to build one million homes by 2020 with only one in five (21%) believing this target to be realistic.

Keith Aldridge, APF’s founder and managing director, said: “We welcome the Government’s extension to the PDR legislation. We have assisted many developers in capitalising on the relaxed planning laws and believe it has played a key role in reinvigorated this part of the market, creating significant opportunity for specialist lenders like Amicus. There is clearly a long way to go but it’s certainly a step in the right direction in addressing the UK’s housing shortage.”

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