Shopping around for new homes

More than 90% of MPs think that converting empty spaces above shops could help reverse the current housing shortage, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The survey results, which have been published alongside a new research report by the FMB entitled ‘Homes on our high streets’, shows that MPs believe converting empty spaces above shops could have a number of positive consequences, including:

94% of MPs believe it could reverse the housing shortage in their constituency

89% of MPs say it could boost local growth in their area

86% of MPs think it could have a positive impact on the vibrancy of their town centres

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “It is estimated that as many as 300,000 to 400,000 new homes 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.”

Brian continued: “Taking a number of case studies from town centres from right across Great Britain, our research highlights the opportunities that exist for creating new homes in a range of different building types. It demonstrates what could be achieved by innovative and ambitious development.

“The report puts councils at the heart of the solution and suggests some practical ways for them to facilitate the development of wasted space above shops. Local authorities should include proposals to make use of these empty spaces in their planning documents and also help find ways to overcome the various barriers, such as limited building access, so that we can tap into this much-needed source of additional housing supply. Building new homes is important, but a great deal can also be achieved through making better use of our existing buildings.”