Will Britain’s High Streets evolve into residential communities?

Will Britain’s High Streets evolve into residential communities?

New research by MRI Software, a leading provider of real estate software solutions, has revealed that the UK high street could evolve into residential communities over the next decade. The retail decline of the UK high street has been well documented with major players such as House of Fraser and Debenhams announcing many closures and, as internet shopping takes hold, many smaller shops are suffering the same fate.

The UK government recently announced its ‘Future High Streets Fund’ to look at how retail space can be repurposed and in MRI’s research, various property professionals were asked for their views on the matter.

Currently there are around 50,000 shops across UK town and cities lying unused and the property professionals surveyed see these as having the best potential with 66% stating that they represent ‘the biggest untapped resource for new residential developments in the UK.’

Major cities that are already repurposing various retail spaces include Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham where city centre living is growing, especially amongst millennials, who have a preference for living near to their workplace and having close proximity to all the amenities that a city can offer.

Commenting on the research, Dermot Briody, Executive Managing Director of MRI Software Europe, said: “The research shows we will see a far greater number of people living in town centres, which will give a boost to retailers on the high street whilst feeding other businesses such as gyms and entertainment venues.”

Interestingly, 82% of respondents to the research said that they see the next 12 to 18 months as a lucrative time for the redevelopment of mixed-use properties with only 24% believing that Brexit will negatively impact the UK property industry’s ability to secure funding for property redevelopment.

Dermot Briody added: “The vast majority of industry players we surveyed were bullish on the outlook for the sector. Even where Brexit is concerned, the positive outweighed the negative, as two-thirds maintain that even a hard Brexit won’t hurt their ability to get funding for property development.”