The built environment looks permanent.
We walk through cities and towns imagining they will always look the same. Without realising, every change of use, extension and closure is transforming our streets and communities before our eyes.
Recently the Estates Gazette reported that music venues in London were experiencing a deep decline. It seems strange when live music is the main area artists and record companies are making their money in 2016.
However, you may not realise but in the eight years between 2007 and 2015 the UK’s capital saw 35% of its small music venues close. In fact you will see that only 88 remain. It was a figure that worried the last London Mayor, Boris Johnson. He set up a task force with developers to see just what was driving such a shift in attitude. It will be interesting to see what his successor does with this initiative but meanwhile small music venues in the UK are under threat.
Tastes change and traditions can fall by the wayside.
We have seen a shift in usage of many commercial properties as needs are created. For example there are a number of churches springing up all over London in desperate need of good quality buildings.
Residential and commercial values are skyrocketing in London
Certainly, the rises in property values mean buildings are often being sold for residential purposes. Many offices have been renovated and repurposed. You only have to look at the Old Street area of London to see just what new London might look like. Both residential and commercial values have increased exponentially. Look what is happening to property prices in Croydon for example.
We understand that the increased population in London that sees no sign of slowing is also a massive influence. Areas are being regenerated at an astonishing speed. Yet, we may well need homes but we also need community spaces. We need to create a built environment that is welcoming, inclusive, safe and attractive.
You need homes for sure but you also need nurseries, health centres, places of worship, community areas for gatherings, concerts, markets and a whole host of outdoor events. It might well be time to overhaul some of the highly complex planning regulations that make change of use so time-consuming at times.
Dealing with a number of organisations over the past twenty years we have seen how there is a dearth of suitable properties available for new places of worship.
Landlords are sometimes skeptical about letting their redundant commercial buildings to churches. It is a matter of education and understanding. Like music venues that nurture talent, churches nurture community spirit and can have a massive impact on the surrounding area.
The UK had a flourishing music scene, many places of worship also have a flourishing musical heritage and maybe old music venues might well gain a new lease of life if they were sold or leased to a new church.
Houses, shops, crèches, cafes, theatres and squares should all be part of new community proposals. Please don’t leave churches out of the equation. Maybe some religious sectors are shrinking but others are growing and they all need a space. If that sounds like your kind of organisation then do contact us for expert help in finding a venue for your church or group.
James Adebayo is director of TA Property and understands the D1 and commercial property market trends in LondonTags: London commercial property