Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • voxyn
    • By voxyn 30th Sep 17, 4:57 PM
    • 5Posts
    • 1Thanks
    voxyn
    New build flat above planned office space
    • #1
    • 30th Sep 17, 4:57 PM
    New build flat above planned office space 30th Sep 17 at 4:57 PM
    I'm currently investigating making an off-plan offer on a duplex flat in Bristol. It's a whole-building refurbishment which is being re-developed to have four storeys of 12+ duplex apartments. The bottom floor is being re-developed and sold/leased as office space.

    I've of course read through the MSE boards and seen that the general advice is to be very cautious when contemplating flats above commercial. I've also noticed some differences with this property and threads I've read here so thought I'd describe my situation to see what other MSErs think!

    Specifically, the ground floor is specifically limited to B1 use; i.e., "Offices, research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential area." Having looked at the Change Of Use rules, council permission is required to convert from B1 to any other use category except "Storage and Distribution" (B8). Ideally this should make it harder for the developer to convert to the ugly use categories (A1-A5 – restaurants, cafes, fastfood, etc.), though in reality I'm not a planning expert and don't know how much of a barrier this really is.

    Aside from the commercial concerns, the property itself is very attractive – sought-after location, rising property prices, spacious, great view, allocated parking, and so on.

    After a preliminary chat with my mortgage advisor, he says that lenders are indeed weary of accom-above-commercial, but is confident that for properties located above B1 (i.e., no smells) there'll be an ample selection of 20%-deposit mortgages, and possibly as low as 15%, which are within my own budget.

    According to the real estate agent there will be some kind of provision in the leasehold restricting what kinds of tenants the developer is permitted to place on the bottom floor – something along the lines of "peaceful and non-disruptive". (I'm seeking specifics of this ASAP.)

    Does this sound more or any less risky that the "flat above shop" issues I've commonly heard about on elsewhere? Any advice gratefully appreciated, especially insight on the following:

    * What long-term safeguards should I look for in my leasehold agreement to ensure the ground floor will not be occupied by mortgage-killing tenants?
    * In reality how easy is it for developers to obtain permission to convert property use from B1 to Ax?
    * Are there any common red flags I should look out for in the council planning-permission?
    * In general, is B1 treated differently by buyers?
    * Any specific questions I should ask the estate agent?

    Thanks!

    P.S. I'm buying to live in the flat, but also have an eye on selling it in approx 3-5 years.
Page 1
    • boliston
    • By boliston 30th Sep 17, 5:47 PM
    • 2,402 Posts
    • 1,981 Thanks
    boliston
    • #2
    • 30th Sep 17, 5:47 PM
    • #2
    • 30th Sep 17, 5:47 PM
    I think in large cities like bristol a lot of flats in the centre are going to have some sort of commercial use on the ground floor - this actually makes a lot of sense as if you live in a city centre you are not really going to want a flat at street level with lots of people walking past looking in so it makes more sense to have shops or offices at street level rather than flats
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 30th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    • 5,934 Posts
    • 5,691 Thanks
    davidmcn
    • #3
    • 30th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    • #3
    • 30th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    * In reality how easy is it for developers to obtain permission to convert property use from B1 to Ax?
    Originally posted by voxyn
    Potentially not too difficult if they can demonstrate to the planners that they're finding it difficult to find a B1 occupier. The other option might be that they just apply for it to be residential (I think I've seen both happen). Don't know what is the obvious use for the location you're talking about.
    • Wyndham
    • By Wyndham 30th Sep 17, 7:14 PM
    • 1,971 Posts
    • 2,208 Thanks
    Wyndham
    • #4
    • 30th Sep 17, 7:14 PM
    • #4
    • 30th Sep 17, 7:14 PM
    This the one on the Harbourside (facing the SS GB) by any chance? If so, I live close by, PM me if you want to know anything about the area.
    • knightstyle
    • By knightstyle 30th Sep 17, 9:04 PM
    • 4,394 Posts
    • 1,612 Thanks
    knightstyle
    • #5
    • 30th Sep 17, 9:04 PM
    • #5
    • 30th Sep 17, 9:04 PM
    Apart from possible mortgage and resale difficulties I would be wary of buying above a commercial property.
    Friends lived next door to an accountants office and there was a lot of noise, doors slamming, noisy printers and worse of all A?C units on the back wall close to their living room.
    • voxyn
    • By voxyn 3rd Oct 17, 9:31 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    voxyn
    • #6
    • 3rd Oct 17, 9:31 PM
    • #6
    • 3rd Oct 17, 9:31 PM
    Thanks all for your advice. Here's some feedback from my experience, for posterity.

    I spoke to a few friends in city planning and their opinion was the same: Office (B1) should not be a problem. The A classes are the ones to be careful about, especially A5 (fast food). There is indeed the possibility that the developer may apply to change the use down the line, but this is less likely (but not impossible) given the area for this particular property. Ultimately it's a risk one has to weigh up for themselves, taking into account the specific area and its future.

    My meeting with mortgage advisor also went smoothly. A few lenders' criteria blanket excluded lending on properties above commercial, but there were rare. All the other lenders we contacted were fine when we told them that it was above office. I'd note that we didn't find any mortgages below 15% deposit. And the number of 15% options were slim. Most were at 20%. I'm not sure if this is due to the above-commercial circumstance or because it's a new build or because it's a flat (or combination of all). I also had some other particular requirements around part-gifted deposits which excluded a number of lenders, so your mileage may vary.

    In the end I've come away feeling re-assured.

    (P.S. @wyndham thanks for the kind offer – I've been living Bristol for two years now and been carefully clueing myself on purchase options .)
    • Wyndham
    • By Wyndham 4th Oct 17, 11:21 AM
    • 1,971 Posts
    • 2,208 Thanks
    Wyndham
    • #7
    • 4th Oct 17, 11:21 AM
    • #7
    • 4th Oct 17, 11:21 AM
    (P.S. @wyndham thanks for the kind offer – I've been living Bristol for two years now and been carefully clueing myself on purchase options .)
    Originally posted by voxyn
    Glad to hear it, and about the rest, looks like you are sorted?

    I mentioned the area as I and others were surprised by quite how noisy the area is, and how much the noise echos off the buildings.
    At 4am this morning I was woken by a loud drunk, I assume going home to Hotwells... and that's far from being the first time! My previous flat was on Millennium Promenade, and I really got a lot of noise. My current one is slightly set back, but still has it's moments!
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

4,633Posts Today

6,192Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • RT @LordsEconCom: On Tuesday Martin Lewis, Hannah Morrish & Shakira Martin gave evidence to the Cttee. Read the full transcript here: https?

  • Ta ta for now. Half term's starting, so I'm exchanging my MoneySavingExpert hat for one that says Daddy in big letters. See you in a week.

  • RT @thismorning: Can @MartinSLewis' deals save YOU cash? ???? https://t.co/igbHCwzeiN

  • Follow Martin