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Work from home trend could assist high street revival

30 July 2020

Increased levels of activity could be seen in high streets around the country if the home working trend continues, according to the latest RICS survey.

Its study of commercial property members found that 93% thought that business would reduce their city centre office space over the next two years.

This was also thought to prompt more companies to invest in facilities in regional towns, which may also see an increase in shared office space in these areas.

With more people working locally, this could help to increase activity levels in high streets and raise demand for commercial premises in these areas.

However, the majority of RICS members expect rental prices for retail and office facilities to continue to fall over the next three months.

With around 75% of property agencies and valuation business stating that the market was in a depressed state, just over 10% thought it had reached the lowest point of the cycle.

RICS head of UK government relations Hew Edgar said: "With downturn there can be opportunity, government must also look to replace uncertainty with stability; and fill the middle of the commercial sector polo mint.

"Offices and shops in city centres need support as people stay away from their normal workplace, and although local shop hubs are benefiting the market must be addressed as a whole."

The company's chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: "We're looking at a very different model going forward: there may still be a central location but it may just be a lot smaller."

With more space becoming available, this could be used to address the housing crisis, he said.

However, Mr Edgar said the government's proposal to loosen building development was flawed and a more "stringent planning permissions process" makes it "possible to deliver viable office-to-residential schemes".

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