Written by Aidan Dike-Lawlor
When the country was thrust into lockdown and the lights in offices were switched off for the last time and hotels locked their doors, no one thought they would be shut for this long. However, as time goes on and leases expire, more and more companies are leaving their existing offices. As Coronavirus has already changed, the way we live, interact and work, is this an epoch for office space as we know it?
As most of us have got used to working from home, in our study’s or more creative ways in cupboards, or even using ironing boards as makeshift desks many do not envisage a return to the office. Worldwide bank Standard Chartered, have already announced that their 85,000 staff are to work from home on a permanent basis, with only small regional co-working spaces for those who endeavour to get out of the home. This is very much a common trend and one we can only expect to be exacerbated.
Predictions for the future of this land are anything but positive for commercial landlords, while the country returns to normal, commercial property does not follow this trend. Thoughts of the tired states London Docklands in the 1980s and the constant reminiscence of Brunel’s abandoned brownfield sites scattered around Bristol. Many regeneration projects and even new towns such as Milton Keynes have been built around the Bastian of commercial property and without this, the way we view, change and regenerate places will change forever. Therefore, with this potential gulf of land, will this have a detrimental impact on the property market?
However, with much of this property in prime locations, it may just pose a solution to the housing crisis. Through a simple change of use, many of these properties could be changed into residential buildings providing homes for many, freeing up space for local authorities to house the many thousands which currently occupy housing waiting lists. Although the legal process can be complex, once this is done the benefits are clear for all parties involved.
Although the pandemic has caused us to make snap decisions when we take a step back and evaluate there is almost always an alternative and the change of use of commercial property is just an epithet of this.