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THOUSANDS of new homes the government wants to be built could be created by converting disused office space.

Andrew Hodgkinson, associate director for commercial property firm Lambert Smith Hampton in the south, says an LSH survey has found 11,500 homes could be made from 7.4m sq ft of obsolete offices.

That would make up roughly a quarter of the houses that the government wants to see built.

Andrew, who is based at the LSH office in Whiteley, said: ‘In the last 20 years, the amount of allocated space per person in an average UK office has halved.

‘Office-occupier requirements will continue in this vein, meaning that any stock that doesn’t meet modern workplace trends is unlikely to ever be let again.

LSH says the trend now is for bespoke commercial units, built in places such as Voyager Park South, pictured, in Portsmouth, as previously reported in The News.

‘In the past, getting planning permission to convert an office into residential accommodation could be costly and time consuming.

‘This is no longer the case in England following the government’s recent announcement that it will allow office space to be converted without planning permission.’

There is money to be made from converting commercial units. The average value for residential property is around £155 per square foot, whereas commercial property is worth between £30 and £80.

Andrew said: ‘Put simply, obsolete office space is a drag on our market and offering investors and developers little or no value.’