Review of the Private Rented Sector: Volume 4: Bringing Private Sector empty houses into use

A review of initiatives to address the problem of empty houses drawn from case studies across the UK.


Living over the shop initiatives were prominent in the early 1990s when Anne Petherick set up the Living Over the Shop Initiative in York. 49 Typical issues to be dealt with in bringing empty spaces over shops back into use are reported as being:

  • The noise and crowding of high street locations can reduce the demand for such properties.
  • Concerns about the depressing effect on desirability and property values should there be any future change of use ( e.g. from florist to take-away).
  • Creating separate access from the shop for the flats (in Northern Ireland, a porch was sometimes created at the end of a terrace or at the front of the building).
  • Providing basic amenities e.g. suitable storage for prams, bikes and bins and mail box access.
  • Parking provision.
  • Particularly for larger chain stores, the whole building may be leased rather than owned so capital investment may be difficult.

Case studies which provided examples of living over the shop initiatives were Plymouth, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Devon Empty Homes Partnership.

Back to top