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Agency backs converting empty shops into homes

An agency is backing the conversion of empty retail units into homes - and has figures to prove how big an impact this could have.

Keller Williams UK analysed the potential square footage of high street stores used by 38 major retail brands that have ceased trading, or are due to close this year.

Based on the average square footage of A1 retail space (2,195 sq ft), Keller Williams estimates these closures will leave some 19,735,230 square foot of unused retail space across the UK.

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With the average home coming in at just 790 square feet, this redundant retail estate could pave the way for a potential 24,981 new homes.

Debenhams would account for the vast majority of the potential; it has already liquidated 52 stores with the remaining 45 to shut for good later this week. These 97 stores are thought in total to occupy 13,628,740 square feet of retail space, enough for 17,252 homes.

Ben Williams, Keller Williams UK chief executive, says: “It’s abundantly clear that we simply don’t shop in the same way we used to and so physical retail outlets are likely to remain largely redundant in many high streets up and down the nation.

“At the same time, we’re seeing a lack of housing stock failing to satisfy the appetites of UK homebuyers, while housebuilders and the government continue to fail year on year in meeting delivery targets.”

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