Last year, you may recall that we released a market and legal report which looked at the rise in co-living arrangements in the UK and across France, Germany and Spain.  The idea of converting empty buildings into shared living schemes with common amenity spaces got us thinking about other drivers for change and we could see how opportunities for repurposing redundant retail assets might be an area for growth in 2020, particularly as a number of markets were already experiencing a downturn in the performance of traditional retail assets in town centres and high streets.

Then came Covid-19.  The immediate closure of all shops in lockdown was obviously going to have an abrupt impact on the retail market, but as this was already a sector which was already struggling, the pandemic brought the idea of repurposing retail into much sharper focus.

In “Repurposing Retail”, we consider the market and legal issues for repurposing retail assets in the UK, as well as in France, Germany and Spain.  These different markets are exploring various responses to the changing face of retail, with common themes being the growth of mixed-use developments and the repurposing of big box retail parks as logistic hubs.  These are just a couple of ways in which new value can be derived from underperforming retail portfolios.

Our research also highlighted the vital role that repurposing might play in creating new places and spaces for the communities in which existing retail assets are located.  Colette O’Shea, Managing Director, London and Retail Properties at Landsec comments:

Empty space – particularly buildings which once housed retail outlets which are now derelict, empty and decaying – has a hugely negative impact on the communities it is situated in. Not only is it a clear indicator of hyper-local economic distress, but it also prevents communities connecting and thriving as they should.

This current oversupply of space, however, does provide an opportunity to create a future that places communities at the heart of the built environment in the long-term. After all, buildings come to represent far more than the sum of their parts when we take into account the effect their use – when designed and built in consultation with local stakeholders – has on community cohesion, the generation of social value, employment, social mobility and wellbeing.

To learn more about the repurposing trends emerging across the UK and Europe, click here to access our report.  You may also be interested in Landsec’s report “Reimagining empty retail space: transforming UK towns and cities for future communities” which looks at the changing retail environment in the UK and how retail space might be reimagined in the future.

For further information, please contact:

Jeremy Walden
Jeremy Walden
Partner and head of UK and EMEA real estate practice, London
+44 20 7466 2198
Matthew White
Matthew White
Partner and head of UK planning practice, London
+44 20 7466 2461