Property & Business - Winter 2020 05 PROPERTY | BUSINESS | PLANNING | ENERGY Investing in proper ty? Flexibility is the word! Where will we be economically in 5 year’s time? The view of the future has never been more opaque and property is no different. For investors in commercial property, flexibility is the word. It is important to know where the exit route is to protect your investment. If a shop cannot continue in its ‘traditional’ use, is a conversion to residential or leisure realistic? The exit for offices is usually, and successfully, residential but that may not work for an office ‘out the back’ of an industrial estate. Although the future of the industrial market is more assured with real growth and activity, buyers should consider whether a change from manufacturing to warehousing (or vice versa) can be achieved without significant cost. Recent modifications to the Use Classes Order and Permitted Development Rights have made such changes of use more available, though less straight forward than the headline writers might have you believe! Like many things in the world of Covid, this is not a new trend. For example, there used to be several office users in and around the Cathedral Quarter of Lincoln. Many of these have been converted back into residential, whether houses or flats. But the pace of change is accelerating and a flexible property has the best chance of a positive future. John Elliott BSc (Hons) MRICS ACIArb Managing Partner, Chartered Surveyor e t 01522 504303