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The relaxation of planning rules could see a big change to UK High streets – for landlords and developers opportunity knocks

The relaxation of planning rules announced by the Prime Minister, could lead to big changes on the British High Street, says Heather Powell.

This will allow owners of recently vacant properties to change their use without applying for planning permission. This could lead to a huge change in our High Streets, retail Parks and commercial areas.

Landlords who feel they have been beaten up both by the Government and by tenants have now been given a huge advantage as they will soon be able to not only evict tenants but switch to a more lucrative use of their properties.

Landlords hands have been tied in negotiations with tenants due to the restrictions imposed about the collection of rent. If tenants do not pay up after the end of September (and many will question how many non-paying tenants will be able to pay the March, June and September rent in full in October) the landlord can now evict them and switch the use for their properties.

The Prime Minister clearly hopes many properties will be converted to new homes, but alternative uses are much broader. Landlords can convert their premises to cafes, offices or new homes. If they do not have the appetite or expertise to undertake the work themselves, they can sell to a developer.

For passive investors, or those who have invested via Self-invested personal pensions (SIPPS), sale to a developer may be the only option, but it will allow them to exit from an investment where returns have plummeted.

For owners of Retail Malls this could be the lifeline they need to avoid Intu’s fate. Large regeneration schemes that have fought their way through the planning system have shown what is possible.

Landlords should be assessing their options now and developers should be speaking to their funders and investors so that they are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities. It might even be good news for the Intu shareholders as they may just get a few pence back on their shares!

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to discuss any of the above guidance or have other queries about how you can make the right decisions for the future of your business and your income, please contact Heather Powell or your usual Blick Rothenberg contact.

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