Are landlords getting the full potential from their sites? 

With the pandemic accelerating changes to the demands and needs of tenants and occupiers in UK city centres, many landlords are exploring the repurposing of empty premises, according to BRM Real Estate director, James Alger.

“Repurposing buildings rather than leaving them empty can provide a solution to the ever-growing number of empty properties and is a huge opportunity for all property owners,” said James. “However, this route will provide landlords with numerous challenges to consider, too.

“Department stores are ideal for repurposing. A recent high-profile example is John Lewis in Sheffield city centre. The size of these buildings lead to the first thought of turning a tired and vacant store into luxury apartments or student flats.

“But is the property subject to covenants restricting its use or requiring third party consent for changes to use or the building? This is particularly pertinent for leasehold properties and must be considered by legal advisers early on.

“Another consideration is the public reaction to repurposing a building with historic meaning or popular department store to make way for discount or charity shops. This may not immediately find favour with shoppers and other city centre stakeholders, even if it could open rental streams quickly.

“Sheffield’s now vacant Debenhams store was recently proposed as a city centre hospital, an idea which prompted local discussion and won a prestigious economics prize.

“Landlords must also consider the type of use and whether repurposing a large space into single-use is a better option. Increasingly, bigger city centre conversion projects will involve elements of residential, leisure, retail, and high spec office use. Landlords should liaise with their planning consultants and commercial real estate agents to explore the true potential of their sites.”


£1.61m new record price for lot set at auction

A new record for the highest individual lot price of £1.61m was set at Mark Jenkinson and Son’s latest online auction.

Malmo Food Innovation and Technology Park in Hull – comprising 10 units totalling 27,300 sq ft and a resource centre, all fully let – was listed at £1,500,000 but sold for the record-setting £1,610,000.

The freehold site of 1.69 acre was the top selling lot in the sixth online event of the year for the auctioneers – which saw 31 of 36 lots selling for a total of £5.8m.

Several other lots also sold well above their estimate, including an extended three-bedroom semi-detached house in need of general modernisation in Stannington, with a guide price of £250,000 sold for £317,000. A stone-built three-bedroom semi-detached cottage, also in need of general modernisation, in Bramley, Rotherham, listed at £90,000-£100,000 sold for £123,000. And a single garage in sought-after Nether Edge, Sheffield, which went under the hammer with a guide price of £5,000 sold for £23,500.

Adrian Little, head of the auction department, said: “There is currently very high demand for residential modernisation opportunities.

“Equally, commercial property is performing strongly – as well as the record-setting site in Hull, an inner terrace with accommodation including shop in Sheffield sold for £272,000 after being listed at £175,000.”

The next online auction is on Tuesday October 19.