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Investors – where are the UK’s best locations for regeneration?

At PIT, we have regularly focused on stories surrounding regeneration and the impact this has on investment.

Very often, an area that is being regenerated will have appeal to investors looking to get in early before prices and demand really soar.

But where are the UK’s best locations for regeneration at present?


Following a 100% increase in searches for the term ‘UK regeneration projects’ over the last year, structural glass manufacturer, Specialist Glass Products, issued Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to 423 local councils to work out the number of empty commercial properties across the UK in February 2019 and 2022.

This was in order to identify those areas with the biggest opportunity for regeneration, whether it be turning commercial units into residential properties – in line with a popular trend of the last few years – or bringing new life to a high street with new shops, cafes, restaurants and boutiques.

The data revealed the top ten hottest areas for regeneration to be:

  1. City of Westminster - 8,456

  2. London Borough of Tower Hamlets - 3,784

  3. Leeds City Council - 3,567

  4. Trafford Council - 2,967

  5. City of Glasgow - 2,758

  6. Salford City Council - 2,178

  7. Birmingham City Council - 2,153

  8. Cheshire East - 1,625

  9. London Borough of Hackney - 1,461

  10. North-west Leicestershire - 1,160

Overall, the analysis found there were 89,371 empty commercial buildings across the UK in February 2022, representing a 21% rise in comparison to pre-pandemic (February 2019).

Some have argued that repurposing these buildings into new homes could help to ease the housing crisis by upping supply, while others argue for a revival of the high street with local, community-led, independent stories.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Central London provides the most prominent opportunities for regeneration, with the City of Westminster and London Borough of Tower Hamlets taking the two top spots, with more than 12,000 empty commercial properties between them.

The big university, legal and football city of Leeds is the third biggest area of opportunity for regeneration, the list found, with 3,567 buildings currently unoccupied, while other northern areas to make the top ten include Trafford Council (2,967) and the City of Glasgow (2,758).

There is no north/south divide when it comes to regeneration, with the research suggesting that both councils in the North and South have an equal opportunity for regeneration. Four councils from both regions feature in the top ten, with the rest of the list made up by local councils from the Midlands – namely Birmingham (2,153) and North-west Leicestershire (1,160).

Specialist Glass Products’ study also highlighted which local councils were most impacted by Covid-19 – which had a devastating impact on many high streets across the country – by comparing the number of empty commercial properties in 2022 against 2019.

Of those councils which held this information, the following saw stark growth in empty properties: St Albans City & District Council (up by 855%), Inverclyde Council (up by 700%) and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), up by 518%

“It has been a testing couple of years for many businesses with multiple lockdowns and restrictions, Brexit and inflation in energy and cost of living,” Andrew Taylor, managing director at Specialist Glass Products, said of the study.

“Hospitality businesses, in particular, have had to find ways to adapt to the new ways of living by sourcing new commercial space with large external areas that are more sustainable. When searching for an area to invest in, business owners should always be on the lookout for areas pushing regeneration; this is often an indication of future growth and demand. 

You can find the full results of the study here


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