Councillors must start working with local builders and developers to make better use of the existing town centre buildings, advised the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Following the recent announcement of Budget 2018, FMB CEO Brian Berry was speaking on the development of space above shops.
“It is important that the Chancellor has recognised the importance of investing in our high streets. He has announced a £675 million Future High Streets Fund to allow councils to rejuvenate town centres. It is estimated that as many as 300,000 to 400,000 new homes alone could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets. This is space just waiting to be turned into residential accommodation. There is a pressing need to re-invent many of our town centres in light of changing patterns of retail and leisure. The Government should be applauded for its ambition to safeguard the life of our high streets,” said Brian Berry.
“A recent report titled Homes on our High Streets from the FMB puts councils at the heart of the solution and suggests some practical ways for them to facilitate the development of wasted space above shops. Retail will always be an important element of vibrant high streets, but there is plenty we can do on a small scale to help convert unused and under-used space in to attractive residential units. This will both boost the supply of new homes and help breathe new life back into our high streets. What we must avoid is perfectly good space lying empty and achieving nothing in terms of boosting the local economy or housing individuals,” he added.
The FMB CEO has also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of £1 billion to guarantee capacity to support lending to the SME housebuilding sector.
“Many small-scale house builders continue to experience real difficulty in accessing the finance they need to build homes, and it is often the smallest scale builders that experience the greatest problems. This new funding will help to speed up the delivery of homes and lead to a more diverse and resilient housing supply,” Berry concluded.