This Week in Property: The Latest News (30th July 2021)

Take a look at what our CEO Gill Fielding has to say about this week’s property news…

Swap Shop

On the 1st August the permitted development rights (PDRs) change again and will now allow the conversion of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms, creches and pharmacies that have been empty for 3 months into residential accommodation.

This will be a win win creating much needed housing in town and city centres and will also enliven the high street as more people will live there, shop and eat there. It could be a return to the town centres of old, where people lived in the centre of town and just popped to the corner shop for provisions.

I think it’s a great move and will provide much need additional accommodation. What I also like about it is that it will encourage the smaller property developers to get involved, this is because these one off empty sites in high streets are of no interest to larger developers.

I can’t wait to get stared! I want to swap a shop in the near future.


Shameful research

I read a headline on the BBC news website this weekend which said: ‘Heatwave risk from plans to convert shops to homes’ and I immediately read on to find out what the problem was – only to find there was no problem. Apparently ‘research’ by Zurich Insurance says:  “A rush to redevelop shops and offices left empty by the pandemic could create a swathe of sub-standard homes that are vulnerable to climate change” What!!?!! What a ridiculous piece of ‘research’. The absurd assumptions are that:

  1. Any redevelopment of an empty shop under Permitted Development Rights would be sub-standard.
  2. That the property would therefore be vulnerable to climate change.

What an irresponsible piece of reporting.  A government spokeswoman for Housing, Communities and Local Government said homes delivered through permitted development rights continued to make an important contribution to housing delivery. She added that Zurich’s “claims are based on unfounded assumptions“. Too right they are. I’m ashamed that a reputable organisation like Zurich would create such a report and publish it: I’m ashamed that the BBC online would print it – and add the inflammatory headline and frankly I’m ashamed of myself for actually reading it.

When is this nonsense reporting going to stop because all it does is fuel fear and negativity. We NEED more housing and some poor soul who is currently homeless may now never get a home because of this, if the report puts off one person from converting a disused and empty shop into a reasonable home for someone to live in. This type of research and reporting needs to be held responsible for the impact it has. I have a message for anyone wanting to convert a shop into a home – please go ahead and thank you. The country needs you and your efforts to house the homeless. You’re doing a great job and I thank you.


University Demand

My children have all finished their university careers, but I was still keen to read an article this week which said that UCAS predict a 40% rise in demand for University places and more than a million teenagers are expected to apply to go to University by 2025.

There are many reasons for this, unfortunately young people need more and more qualifications to help them stand out for the crowd in the job market. But of course, my property investors hat is never far from my head, I immediately started to think of all the housing these students will need as increasingly Universities can’t provide the accommodation needed on campus and must look for private housing nearby.

That’s where the property investor steps in and creates a win win for all. It’s a great income generating investment as well as being essential housing for the student. I’m always saying ’look for the demand’ when investing – well here it is!


Money, Money, Money

Like the Abba song, I’m fascinated by Money, Money, Money and the news this week is that there are about £28 billion old notes and coins not cashed in! The Bank of England said just over a billion paper banknotes remain in circulation with 114 million paper £5 notes, 76 million £10 paper notes, 510 million £20 paper notes and 341 million £50 paper notes not being returned when they ceased to be legal tender.


I reckon there’s three reasons for that: there’s the nostalgia value where people hold onto the money of their past: there’s the would be investors who think that the money will be worth a fortune in the future and finally there’s the rest of us who just can’t find it! It’s estimated that £155 million per year is lost down the back of sofas in the UK alone, then there’s the estimated £100 million we just lose or throw away together with several million pounds of cash hiding in old coat pockets and handbags.


I don’t think there’s anything particularly sinister about it – I think we just lose a lot of things: phones, keys, receipts and physical cash is just in the mix there but just imagine if we looked for that missing money and searched our pockets, bags, turn ups, old shoes and car cash trays, I reckon we could find most of the Bank of England’s missing cash – and if we do they will swap it at its face value for a current equivalent note.


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