£38,000 a year offices no one wants could become flats

Swaffham Bulbeck office block that could be turned into flats

Swaffham Bulbeck office block that could be turned into flats - Credit: eddisons

A rural office block – that has been on the market for over year – could be converted into flats.  

East Cambridgeshire District Council has received an application to create four flats at the former office building at Hill Side Mill, Quarry Lane, Swaffham Bulbeck.  

Agents say the site has previously been in office use and was vacated in September 2021.  

“It has now been marketed for over one year (since June 15, 2021) with no interest received,” says the application to East Cambs planners. 

“Accordingly, permission is sought to convert it to four two-bedroom flats, with associated amenity area and parking.” 

The site is close to the village centre of Swaffham Bulbeck and bordered to the north and west by a recently approved housing development.  

“It is a sustainable location for new flats,” say the agents.  

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The owners propose to reconfigure the interior to provide two flats on each floor. 

It has been advertised as an office block with a yearly rent of £38,000 but there have been no takers.  

The applicant Greensons Properties Ltd accepts that loss of employment uses will only be supported if it can be demonstrated that employment is no longer viable. 

They hope they have provided the “clear and robust evidence of active marketing over a period of at least 12 months” to satisfy planners. 

Quoting an extensive range of marketing the applicant says the price advertised – of £12.38 per square foot -is at the lower end of comparable office spaces. 

But the applicant considered this “appropriate and realistic due to the quality of the accommodation.  

“Very limited interest has been received, with only one viewing which did not lead to a letting.  

“Therefore, despite a comprehensive marketing campaign giving the property a wide exposure to a range of business types, and advertising at a realistic and competitive rent, the overall level of interest has been very low.” 

Lack of interest is attributed to a number of factors, including a general low level of demand for offices in villages with limited public transport and a preference for more open plan layouts to suit modern working practices 

The applicant believes the conversion of the building to residential uses “will result in a decrease in activity at the site, with a reduction in occupants, traffic movements and parking requirements”.