Out-Law Guide | 06 Sep 2021 | 9:12 am | 3 min. read
New buildings are nearly always more energy efficient and sustainable than the buildings they replace but developing them involves generating significant carbon emissions. In some cases, it may be more sustainable to look at ways of repurposing redundant buildings and giving them a new lease of life.
For example, a town centre retail asset could be converted into use for residential, leisure or office purposes, or an industrial unit could be given a new lease of life as a “dark kitchen” or for use for life sciences purposes. In many cases, the viability of repurposing an asset will depend largely on the location and physical characteristics of the individual building, but there will be legal considerations to take into account when seeking to implement any repurposing initiative.
Before spending time and effort on developing proposals for repurposing a building, an owner should investigate whether there are any legal issues which need to be taken into consideration.
Thought should be given to:
A prudent owner might ask their lawyers to prepare a development constraints report that considers such issues at an early stage as this will help shape their proposals and establish whether a viable scheme can be implemented.
Other issues that will be particularly relevant in the case of repurposing include:
A repurposing project may involve multiple landowners as well as, in some cases, local authorities. Accordingly, there is a range of funding structures that could be looked at, each with their own legal and practical considerations.
As well as developing a structure and strategy that works for the implementation of the project, it is important to anticipate potential exit routes to ensure that whatever structure is used will facilitate a smooth exit at the appropriate stage.
Questions to consider include:
Considering these issues at an early stage of a repurposing project will help a building owner optimise the implementation of the scheme and achieve the best outcomes for all involved.
06 Sep 2021