Market forces, new planning policy and social change have aligned to make a window of opportunity for London’s town centres, according to a new report by Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (KFH).
The estate agency says that pandemic has accelerated the home working trend especially among office workers. The report stated: ‘The alignment of favourable government policy to revitalise town centres, the most recent financial support being the £831m Future High Streets Fund to be shared amongst 72 high streets in England, together with the increased number of residents working from home, could mean we are entering the next cyclical phase for our cities.
‘Our research demonstrates the scale of opportunity for new housing in London’s high streets. For each town centre, we quantified the amount of vacant retail space, vacant non-retail space, 50% of comparison retail space (i.e. chain stores) and any department store space still present at District level town centres. We converted this total potential floor space for each high street into the number of two-bed homes to estimate the scale of potential new housing that could be delivered across London’s town centres.”
According to FKH, the top five towns in Greater London with the most potential to convert retail space into residential units are Croydon, Sutton, Ilford, Romford and Streatham. The firm added: ‘In high streets where land is at more of a premium, we expect to see more emphasis on ‘airspace’ development, with new homes being added on the top of existing buildings.’