In July as part of his measures to boost the economy, Boris Johnson announced changes to the current planning laws which came into effect last month. The overhaul to the planning system had been long awaited and arguably overdue. The adjustments to regulations include allowing many commercial buildings to change to residential use without a planning application. The aim is to speed up the planning process for contractors and developers so that vacant residential and commercial buildings can be demolished and quickly turned into new homes.
The nation’s property market always looks to the capital for boom or bust patterns. With everything that has happened, the changes for the pubs, restaurant and theatre scene in the city have been massive. The property market however boomed post lockdown with many people using the time to think about their lifestyle. According to data from LonRes, property sales in London’s prime areas were down by as much as 24 per cent. But whilst foreign investment in the capital was down, sales at the higher end of homes over £5M were in fact up in July 2020 from the previous year by over 30 per cent.
Rest of the UK
The impact of stress on our lives with the fast pace of city living plus concerns on air quality are prompting buyers to look at relocating to the countryside. The pandemic has given so many of us pause for thought and the idea of a life on the coast or in the countryside has meant a massive spike in searches for these properties. Londoners who have been told they won’t be back in the office for the rest of the year have leapt at the chance to leave the city and get more value for their money in a rural property.
Now that some businesses have taken the decision to permanently relocate their staff to home working, there is much prime office space now up for grabs. The change to planning laws last month will make development easier than ever with a relaxing of regulations around commercial use. If the current building doesn’t suit, the changes have also made it easy for developers to demolish and start again. There is plenty of job creation with these kinds of projects and savvy contractors and developers will be ramping up the acquisition of land and disused buildings.
We are by no means through the pandemic so with everything in flux, it remains to be seen whether buyers will want to live in cities. With that and Brexit looming, these are uncertain times. But whether it’s the city or a complete life change and move into the country, for many the events of 2020 have presented opportunity. For the high-end residential buyers that has meant the freeing up of capital in many cases for better value properties and more to spend on interior design. With many searching for rural and coastal destinations, the high-end property market is most definitely buoyant. Watch this space.
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