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Do you own a non-domestic property which may be vacant, underutilised or capable of being converted?
2 December 2020

Many property owners will have buildings which fall under the above categories. Some may have occupancy issues additionally impacted by the current COVID pandemic. Each will have their own unique circumstances, however now may be the right time to think about how to plan for the future.

Just because something has always been a certain use doesn’t mean to say it has to remain the same use. Recent Government legislation provides opportunities for change of use across a whole range of property types including office and retail spaces right through to warehouses and agricultural buildings.

If the property is currently vacant then this provides the ideal opportunity to consider your options. There are many alternatives to consider and too many to cover in detail in a single article. However, I highlight a few initial questions to ask yourselves:


  • Many tenants are looking to downsize, therefore it may be worth investigating providing smaller flexible units.
  • If it’s vacant, there will never be a better opportunity to review existing layouts, facilities and services.
  • Sustainability has come to the forefront of everyone’s minds and constructing more energy efficient spaces will be key in attracting the right tenants.
  • Refer to our separate article on Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and how you can make your building more attractive to potential tenants and ensure you comply with the Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES) legislation.

Change of use

  • Could the building in its current location be easily re-let in its current use and form?
  • There has been a huge shift in remote working and many businesses are looking towards smaller units in rural areas and converted agricultural buildings.
  • The current planning systems offer a huge array of alternatives to easily allow buildings to change uses.
  • Look at uses of the surrounding properties and whether there is a benefit to convert to an alternative use.


  • Sometimes it is better to look at the holistic approach.
  • Recent Government announcements allow certain properties to be completely demolished and rebuilt.
  • Do other surrounding infrastructure projects or changes in land use provide an opportunity for your site?

Whatever your circumstances, ask yourself the above questions and establish whether you are maximising the returns from your buildings.

Many of the above issues may also apply to tenants wishing to review their own premises they occupy and seeking to sub-let.

There are also many other matters to consider including structural elements, building regulations approval, fire safety, MEES legislation, checking ownerships, etc.

The legislation is complicated to navigate through, however there are a wealth of opportunities. Robinson & Hall can help assess your property and implement a strategy to maximise the use from your assets.

Please contact Robert Franklin, Head of Architecture & Building Surveying on 01234 362917 / 07976 256586 or email to discuss your options to ensure your buildings secure a healthy future.

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