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Changing the face of the High Street

Hope to revitalise deteriorating High Streets


After the publication of the Portas Review in 2011 and the Grimsy Review in 2013 it is hope that the extension of permitted development rights will make better use of unused buildings in town centres and the countryside.  The loosened planning rules hope to revitalise deteriorating high streets and breathe fresh life back into our rural communities.

The proposed changes will allow existing retail property to be converted into residential, making use of uneconomically viable retail locations, stopping unused buildings falling into disrepair and aiding with securing local housing stock. In addition retail premises will be permitted to change into banks and building societies, allowing for more consumer choice and this increase in choice will hopefully creating a more financially stable local society. However in order to maintain retail presence in high streets these changes are specific for property which falls below a 150m2 threshold, and is subject to prior approval.

The Greater flexibilities for change of Use consultation ran for a ten week period which ended in October 2013, The Department for Communities and Local Government is yet to publish the results of the survey.

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Help to Buy causing bubble

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
(RICS) has warned;

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned that a damaging property bubble is being made more likely by the Government’s Help to Buy (H2B) scheme. A report from RICS states that 57% more members were registering higher sales prices than were seeing a fall, the biggest “net balance” since 2002. RICS added that in the three months to October, chartered surveyors acted in the sale of an average of 20 homes, the highest number since 2008. While transaction levels rose in almost every region – not only in London and the South East. Economists at the trade body said inflationary pressure was being driven by a lack of property coming on to the market just as government and Bank of England initiatives were making it easier to buy. RICS said the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme had cut mortgage rates, while the latest phase of H2B meant that more people could find a place on the ladder. Labour and some Liberal Democrats have expressed fears that H2B will inflate another bubble. Chris Leslie, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has called on the Bank of England to launch an immediate review of the scheme rather than waiting until next year, and said the £600,000 limit for properties being bought should be cut. Elsewhere, the Independent’s Steve Richards compares H2B to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. He says the scheme will contribute to the private property boom without addressing the basic problem, which is a lack of supply.


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Nationwide: House prices have risen

House prices are 5.8% higher than this time last year

Nationwide’s October House Price Index has revealed that house prices have risen 1% on September and are 5.8% higher than this time last year. The national average price of a house is now £173,678, still 7% below 2007’s peak of £186,044. It is the sixth month in a row that prices have gone up. Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, commented: “House price growth has accelerated as buyer demand has picked up more quickly than the supply of new homes. The risk is that if demand continues to strengthen while the supply of property remains constrained affordability could become stretched”.  According to Simon Wilkinson, Partner in Sheldon Bosley “a scenario that could in part be caused by the new Help to Buy scheme with many buyers worried about not being able to get on the housing ladder in the future if they don’t buy now”.