Repurposing Retail – Market and legal issues for repurposing retail assets in Europe

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

Co-living in Europe

In an article for Real Estate. Reconsidered, we looked at market and legal issues affecting co-living in the UK (for the article see here). In “Co-living – market and legal issues for co-living projects in Europe” we look at co-living further afield, in France, Germany and Spain as well as the UK. To recap, what is co-living and why is it on the rise?

Co-living is a real estate product that has been developed in response to housing shortages, rising house prices and rents in cities, as well as increasing demand from city dwellers for a stronger sense of community. Some types of shared living (such as house and flat shares) have existed for many years, but the term “co-living” is used to describe a new model of large-scale purpose-built – or converted – shared living schemes where residents share common amenities. These co-living developments typically target young, mobile workers who are seeking a product similar to high-quality student housing, with various on-site facilities, rather than a more traditional flat-share arrangement. But there is no hard and fast rule as to the format of co-living products, with some developments operating more like a hotel and allowing online bookings for as short a period as just one night (whereas most co-living schemes require a minimum stay of a number of months).

Outside the real estate sector, opinions are divided on whether co-living is a solution to the housing crisis or an exploitation of those most exposed to it. Fans of co-living celebrate the freedom and flexibility that the product offers; critics say that it is simply masking a deeper problem and cashing-in on the loneliness at the heart of Generation Y’s struggle to find a home. Whatever your opinion, what is undoubtedly true is that co-living is on the rise in the UK and across the rest of Europe, but with significant differences in the maturity of the market in different jurisdictions.

In “Co-living – market and legal issues for co-living projects in Europe” we consider key European players, how co-living is classified in law in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and legal issues that need to be taken into account. To receive a copy, please contact us.

For more 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