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Preaching to the converted: Office-to-resi schemes delivering homes West needs

Preaching to the converted: Office-to-resi schemes delivering homes West needs

West builders Helm Construction have renewed calls to build out every Brownfield site in Bristol to maximise new home delivery in the city.

The firm says the Chancellor’s Budget pledge to subsidise expensive site preparation works – which are often make or break issues for developers -  could improve the viability of Brownfield sites.

Contracts Manager Danni Oliveira said: “With major housing schemes pencilled in on half a dozen major green field sites around the city’s outskirts it is vital that no stone is left unturned on older industrial or commercial sites within the city boundary.

“Commercial to residential conversion schemes have already changed the face of the Bristol’s inner city – and play a key role in easing the burden on the green field sites already earmarked for thousands of new homes.”

Latest research from the Nationwide Building Society suggests more homes had been created from surplus office premises than with new builds.

Converting much of Bristol’s stock of secondary office space to housing has helped boost the number of apartments in the city – and given the rundown commercial districts away from the city centre a much needed shot in the arm.

“Every home built from a converted commercial space or on one of the dozens of Brownfield sites which are still evident across the city reduces, if only by a fraction, the burden on our suburban districts which are coming to terms with the prospect of thousands of new homes.

According to the Nationwide change of use accounted for a total of 1,040 new homes with just 900 being new builds.

Helm Construction has tackled a number of commercial to residential schemes at Oriel House in Cheltenham, a former office building and Crown Glass and Clevedon Walk in Nailsea which were unused office spaces above shops. Taken together these schemes provided more than 30 new homes.”

Danni Oliveira said: “Around half a million sq. ft. of Bristol’s office space has been converted – the highest rate in the country outside London. This has removed secondary, empty and even derelict commercial space and helped improve any number of previously rundown districts.

“The main downside to all this has been the reduction in the amount of commercial space suitable for SMEs and start-up businesses and a resultant increase in commercial rents. 

“Indeed some Grade B office rents have increased from around £10 to £25 per sq. ft. per annum in just five years, according to figures from a Bristol property company.”