- March 6, 2020
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Repurposing Large Retail
For many landlords, investors and developers, the question of what do to with vacant retail units poses a key challenge for the industry. CS2 understand that in times of uncertainty, you require clear and effective plans to get the most out of your built assets.
Retailers face uncertain times due to inflated business rates and the persistent trajectory of online spends. The traditional department store model seems to be under increasing strain meaning commercial Landlords have an ever-decreasing list of potential Anchor Tenants.
The large unit is not dead!
Primark’s business model particularly illustrates that the large unit is not dead. Value driven retailers with limited online presence can still make a large quantum of space work, offsetting the rates against a reduced delivery and returns cost compared to online retailers.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution available and detailed due diligence should be undertaken when appraising retail stock. A wider consideration of a town’s leisure offering, socio-economic groups and community resources should be considered along with the existing retail offering.
Government & Local Authority Involvement.
Change to planning policy is required in terms of ‘change of use’ to assist shopping districts to be re-defined and re-centralised. Councils must also look to make wider use of compulsory purchase powers to facilitate joint venture opportunities with developers.
Community resources and increased residential development increase footfall and sustainability within town centres. Leisure can also at be part of the solution as demonstrated in the redevelopment of Manchester’s corn exchange which has established itself as a great dining destination.
At the other end of the scale to big brand dining, Peckham Levels illustrates the potential for sub dividing large redundant space to provide exciting opportunities for arts, entrepreneurs and flexible co-working.
Evidently any solution needs to be user led not market led. Investors and developers must respond to the locality and respect the ‘soul’ of the building in order to achieve a successful return on investment.
Creativity is Key!
At CS2 we have demonstrated our passion for bringing new life to old buildings at Bedford Arcade. Through assisting with due diligence, design and project management, the Victorian arcade has been repurposed to provide flexible office space, leisure space and small units suitable for independent retail.
“There is just one empty unit remaining in Bedford’s Old Arcade as three unique new independent shops are opening there in the next two weeks”. 
“The range of shops within the Arcade are challenging the role of the high street and creating a new and flourishing narrative within the town centre”
In an uncertain market one thing remains clear – creativity is key in the business of repurposing retail.
If you require any further advice on your retail unit or would like to speak to one of our experts on this subject please contact Jonathon Grove on firstname.lastname@example.org / 01604 603030.
 Quaterly Town Centre Report; Bedford Borough Council; October – December 2019