It is encouraging to see that the Coalition Government are putting in place measures to enable the conversion of ageing office blocks into residential. This is especially so around London and South East England. It takes the form of by way of permitted development rights.
This is very relevant to Bradford. My firm, Andrew Idle Associates, welcome any such initiatives which could lead to the early re-use of our commercial building stock.
What is the potential for such conversions in a City like Bradford?
Bradford has many characterful buildings that are ripe for redevelopment. A recent excellent example being the conversion of the Grade II Listed former wool warehouse in Little Germany into the new Head Office of Freemans Grattan Holdings. This now houses approximately 300 staff.
Another example is the proposed conversion and start of work on site of a former office building in the Goitside area of the City to student pods. Let us hope that this Government initiative gives rise to more examples, seeing that there is a considerable stock of large former office buildings here.
We have also to consider the impact of smartphones and hot desking on the demand for office space, coupled with increasingly congested main routes and the need to work from home as a consequence. The City is not unusual in that respect.
I for one would like to think that a good proportion of these buildings will be re-used and that City Living here will be revived. It would be pleasing to think that demolition and redevelopment can be avoided in most cases.