We have been here before

I ENTIRELY agree with your editorial on housing published on November 28.

As an architect with children who will struggle to find homes in York that are affordable, I have a particular interest in the potential of housing over shops to alleviate the housing shortage in York and actively revive the city centre by encouraging people to live there.

While it is gratifying to note that money is to be allocated to assess the potential for housing, it would appear you are potentially unaware of City of York Council’s previous history in this respect.

York Civic Trust’s annual report in 2005 concisely set out the facts. It is not known who the author was, but it is suspected that it was written by the late Patrick Nuttgens.

The article identified Ann Petherick as a recognised expert in the field of Living Over The Shop, but to my knowledge neither City of York Council nor Joseph Rowntree Foundation has taken advantage of her expertise.

A great deal of previous robust research that is still relevant could easily be ignored, with the result that all parties involved may well repeat all the mistakes of the past.

Chris Walker, Royal Institute of British Architects.

Comments (1)

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10:52am Wed 5 Dec 12

meme says...

Living over the shop
As people have said we have been here before but why has not much been done? Here are some answers
I think you will find that most retail property, which is owned by private landlords, has been considered for conversion, where the retail lease does not include the upper floors
However, where a property is owned by a private pension fund they are not allowed to convert to residential under pension fund rules If they do they breach pension fund rules so the powers that be are preventing changes in many cases.
There are other reasons why conversion is difficult and it relates to economics. Most retail leases are full repairing and insuring of the entire property. Residential leases generally make the landlord responsible for repairs and despite what people may think the rewards for residential lettings after costs are very low so people don’t convert. Costs of conversion are very high due to health and safety/fire/noise issues and the fact vat may not be recoverable and new rules insist that conversions hit the same standards as new homes! Plus it’s almost a given that CoYC will insist on payments towards education/public open space/highways/affor
dable etc all which affects the viability.
Should a landlord want to sell his property and it contains any residential that immediately takes out pension fund buyers plus larger corporate pension funds, who frankly don’t want the management hassle of residential in their portfolios, although this is beginning to change a bit. It’s a fact that when people rent they seem to think that they have no responsibility for the property and expect the landlord to do everything. I have a couple of properties and have had tenants ring asking me to change a light bulb in their lamp!
Finally retailers, in the main, dislike residential above for all sorts of reasons ranging from security to issues with noise, rubbish and complaints i.e. restaurants with residential above are always getting complaints from the residents.
So its complex but the main issue is the fact that private pension funds cannot convert under pension fund rules whilst the big boys don’t want the hassle.
CoYC can spend lots on consultants but I guarantee these will be the major points which crop up and its central government and HMRC that need to recognise this if we are to see a sea change

John Reeves FRICS Chair, The Helmsley Group, Monks Cross, York Y032 9GZ
Living over the shop As people have said we have been here before but why has not much been done? Here are some answers I think you will find that most retail property, which is owned by private landlords, has been considered for conversion, where the retail lease does not include the upper floors However, where a property is owned by a private pension fund [and very many are] they are not allowed to convert to residential under pension fund rules [blame HMRC and the Government for this little conundrum!] If they do they breach pension fund rules so the powers that be are preventing changes in many cases. [ Incidentally the same goes for solar panels. They cannot be put on commercial property owned by pension funds, which is another case of the right hand not doing what the left hand wants!] There are other reasons why conversion is difficult and it relates to economics. Most retail leases are full repairing and insuring of the entire property. Residential leases generally make the landlord responsible for repairs and despite what people may think the rewards for residential lettings after costs are very low so people don’t convert. Costs of conversion are very high due to health and safety/fire/noise issues and the fact vat may not be recoverable [20%!!] and new rules insist that conversions hit the same standards as new homes! Plus it’s almost a given that CoYC will insist on payments towards education/public open space/highways/affor dable etc all which affects the viability. Should a landlord want to sell his property and it contains any residential that immediately takes out pension fund buyers plus larger corporate pension funds, who frankly don’t want the management hassle of residential in their portfolios, although this is beginning to change a bit. It’s a fact that when people rent they seem to think that they have no responsibility for the property and expect the landlord to do everything. I have a couple of properties and have had tenants ring asking me to change a light bulb in their lamp! Finally retailers, in the main, dislike residential above for all sorts of reasons ranging from security to issues with noise, rubbish and complaints i.e. restaurants with residential above are always getting complaints from the residents. So its complex but the main issue is the fact that private pension funds cannot convert under pension fund rules whilst the big boys don’t want the hassle. CoYC can spend lots on consultants but I guarantee these will be the major points which crop up and its central government and HMRC that need to recognise this if we are to see a sea change John Reeves FRICS Chair, The Helmsley Group, Monks Cross, York Y032 9GZ meme

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