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This seems entirely sensible

Summary:
As we know the rise of internet shopping is making some portion of the current retail estate superfluous to requirements. We are also told that we’ve rather a shortage of places to live where people happen to be and wish to live. That seems like a problem ripe for a simple solution:But the property industry’s view is that 30% of the UK’s 111m sq metres of shop space is redundant and needs to be repurposed as hotels and leisure destinations – or, particularly within the M25, as housing.The question then becomes well, who should be doing the repurposing? And which bits and places should be repurposed? The answer being that we’ve a method to sort through these sorts of problems. The market.What should be done is exactly what has been done with commercial, office, space. Conversion to

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As we know the rise of internet shopping is making some portion of the current retail estate superfluous to requirements. We are also told that we’ve rather a shortage of places to live where people happen to be and wish to live. That seems like a problem ripe for a simple solution:

But the property industry’s view is that 30% of the UK’s 111m sq metres of shop space is redundant and needs to be repurposed as hotels and leisure destinations – or, particularly within the M25, as housing.

The question then becomes well, who should be doing the repurposing? And which bits and places should be repurposed?

The answer being that we’ve a method to sort through these sorts of problems. The market.

What should be done is exactly what has been done with commercial, office, space. Conversion to residential usage requires no change in planning permission - just get on and do it. The same regime would achieve the same end in retail space. If it’s worth more to an owner to have someone living in it then that’s what will happen, someone will live in it. And the very definition of moving the asset to a higher valued use - that cause of our all getting richer, when assets are moved to higher value uses - is that someone is willing to pay more money for the new use of the asset.

Of course, if the law has already been changed to accommodate the process then the problem is already solved. If it hasn’t been then it should be so as to solve it.

Or, as is so often the case, less government is the solution.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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