A useful change of direction March 2013

The Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework makes a lot of sense. It’s all about getting redundant commercial property – the kind that’s unlikely to be needed or, maybe, even ever occupied again – back into use.
At a time when there’s a chronic housing shortage, it’s a win/win. We’ve one or two properties in our own portfolio that could see a new lease of line under these new proposals.
For instance, an old estate office at Freston, near Ipswich, that would made a lovely single residential dwelling, but is – as things stand – unlikely to be ever brought back into commercial use. It’s spacious, it’s got mains services, it’s in a pleasant countryside setting – there’s a lot going for it. It just needs a fair bit of work!
We know of other offices that are sitting vacant on the fringes of the town or in the countryside – where residential areas abut commercial/light industrial/agricultural sites – and where there’s similar potential. One, for instance, is a five/six storey office block not too far from Ipswich town centre that’s been empty for some time.
The new rights will encourage developers to bring these buildings back to useful life.
Frankly, there’s not a lot to dislike about the proposal. It’s a win for those in need of homes, it’ll create jobs in the construction sector and impact positively on the services industries. It could also have the spin-off of regenerating some neglected areas.
There will be exemptions, of course. Where there’s likely to be a detrimental effect on transport and highways for instance, or where there’s a risk of flooding, issues around land contamination and safety, etc. or indeed where there’s the potential to lose an area of significant economic activity through the change of use.
In our view, it’s a move that’s to be welcomed. Whatever can be done to stimulate our stagnant economy and commercial property market should be greeted with wide open arms!

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Vanessa Penn

About Vanessa Penn

Vanessa Penn was formerly Director of Commercial Agency for Countrywide Commercial, Bradford & Bingley and Douglas Duff part of Erinaceous Plc. Vanessa now runs her own agency Penn Commercial located in Ipswich, Suffolk www.penncommercial.co.uk. Penn Commercial boasts a number of local, regional and national clients and has formed an excellent and loyal client base.
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