In recent years it has been clear to see there has been a rise in the number of properties that are left to stand empty or have been abandoned. Such is the problem; the government has brought forward a proposal called ‘Right To Regenerate’ which would allow people to convert vacant plots of land and derelict buildings into new homes or community spaces. We looked at how easy the process is in practice.

Be A Legal Eagle

While there might be a growing number of empty spaces appearing it’s not the case that you can pick up an abandoned property with ease. If this is an approach that appeals the local council should have a list of this type of property for purchase. Many may not be listed though so if you find a property you should always check the land registry for an owner to clarify legal status.

A Purchase Needs A Plan Even When It Doesn’t

A change in government planning systems means many developers are looking to repurpose spaces that have been abandoned after high street collapses. In fact, according to data from the British Retail Consortium, around one in seven shops in England, Scotland and Wales were empty as of March 2021. Several permitted development projects are taking place to convert usage from office use to residential under permitted development, but this is still complex and challenging if on a large scale. On the other side of the coin, older buildings present the challenge of planning constraints, and many will be in a significant state of disrepair. Honing personal ideas and setting contingencies are key to making any conversion a viable investment.

Be Aware Of The Risks

There are many risks when it comes to repurposing property and not accounting for them can add significant costs to a budget. These include things like break-ins, squatting and the discovery of historical problems like asbestos. Hazardous materials, in particular, can be a real challenge and it may be beneficial for anybody working in such a setting to undergo an asbestos awareness course, such as this one from iHASCO. Such discoveries are very common with properties of this type, especially if they were industrial, and a survey should always be a priority. A big plus point of repurposing industrial buildings, however, is that often they are situated in formerly run-down areas that are being regenerated or very close to city and town centres, thus maximising potential future value.

Take Advantage Of Possible Tax Benefits

Tax implications are an interesting part of a repurposing scheme. There are possible benefits to this form of development as different structures can be employed to recover greater VAT than in other circumstances. Get a better understanding and find answers concerning this here.


Identifying buildings which have outgrown their original function and turning them into domestic dwellings is something that would be hugely beneficially in the current housing crisis. It can also reduce the need to build on green land. In many ways, it makes both environmental and financial sense for all involved, if done correctly. Such big financial commitments shouldn’t be taken lightly though, and expert help and collaboration should be sort if you are ever unsure.

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Daniel Peacock

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