Scoop appoints POD Architects to redesign Stirling's retail
UK towns and cities up and down the country are looking how to 'future proof' their high streets amid the ongoing supremacy of online shopping and steep drop in revenues during the pandemic.
The British Retail Consortium reports non-food retail stores will have lost £30bn in foregone sales over the three lockdowns. The Centre for Retail Research states 188,685 retail jobs were lost between March 23 2020 and March 31 this year, and there have been 15,153 store closures.
High streets, already suffering pre-COVID with the rise in online shopping, now face unprecedented pressures to survive.
Now the retail and construction sectors are fighting back. England's retailers make their long-awaited reopening on Monday and non-essential retail is scheduled to reopen on April 26 in Scotland.
Scoop has appointed POD Architects to start the reconfiguration of The Thistles Shopping Centre in Stirling - a 500,000sq ft space housing 90 units. Most, if not all, of the anchor tenants now have a strong online presence, but the centre remains at the heart of the community.
Mark Hewett, Director at Scoop, said the high-street is expected to take on a very different form post-Covid. "Future-proofing is vital to ensure primary shopping centres remain relevant and a place where people want to be – they will be about far more than just shopping. We are looking forward to evolving The Thistles Shopping Centre to ensure it remains the beating heart of the city."
Paul Shedden, Founder of POD Architects, said requirements for retail, and shopping centres in particular, have changed in recent years as more people seek superior retail experiences to draw them out of their homes. "We aim to produce creative and exciting destinations which draw people in. We look forward to embarking on this exciting journey with Scoop," he said.
Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said after a year of yoyo-ing in and out of lockdown, retailers will be hoping for stability and, once again, will be counting on the continued support of shoppers if any sort of bounce back is to be sustained. "Having invested heavily to ensure their stores remain as safe as possible for shoppers to return, the onus is now on the consumer to vote with their feet and ‘use or lose’ the shops they previously frequented," he said.
In line with reducing car emissions and encouraging cycle use and walking, towns are looking at how they can make themselves more connected to communities.
The Ipswich Vision Partnership - which includes local councils, the town's MP and business groups - has unveiled bold plans to create a "connected centre", using some of the £25million Towns Fund cash promised at this year's Budget. A £3.2 million bid to upgrade Dover's town centre has been successful.
Research reveals 164% rise in searches for loft conversions
Market research conducted by building supply specialist Insulation4Less has revealed that searches for ‘Loft Conversions’ rose by a staggering 164% between May and June of this year, while searches for ‘Loft Conversion Ideas’ jumped by 186% as people spend more time on home renovations this summer.
The company also found that the most popular use for a loft conversion is for an additional bedroom, while an extra bathroom was the second-highest search term. Walk-in wardrobes came in third, beating out a home office in fourth while converting a loft into a home cinema round off the top five.
According to a recent study, a loft conversion can add roughly 20% to the value of a property. With the average UK house price standing at £267,000 in January 2021, this represents an average increase in value of more than £53,400.
Johnpaul Manning, Managing Director of Insulation4Less, said: “If the last year has taught us anything, it's that having space is essential to our mental health and wellbeing, so it's no surprise that people are taking the time to focus on home improvements to help them make the most of their home.
As one of the most under-utilised areas in any property, loft conversions represent a great opportunity to maximise the use of space that not only improves quality of life but also has the capacity to add value to the home”, he said.
Manning added that it's important to remember that a loft conversion isn't just your average DIY project, and should never be done on the spur of the moment. “A significant amount of planning needs to happen to make it a reality, and an understanding that life can be disrupted while the build is taking place.
“While it's definitely a worthwhile project, I'd recommend that anyone considering a loft conversion should do some in-depth research to really understand what's needed to make it a reality”, Manning said.
Is Your Loft Suitable For a Conversion?
While loft conversions do look amazing and add an extra element to a property, not all homes may be suitable. Insulation4Less says that this is due to a variety of factors.
“It's important to make sure that your roof is structurally sound enough to handle a conversion”, the company said. Although there are different types of roof structures, they mostly fall into two distinct categories: a traditional roof, and a trussed roof.
A traditional roof: was typically found in pre-1960s houses. Rafters on traditional roofs run along its edges, leaving a good amount of free space. However, they might still need new or extra support. Trussed roofs, on the other hand, have ‘W’ shaped rafters that support the roof and the floor structure. Even though truss roofs may appear to be harder to convert, it’s not impossible; the ‘W’ shaped rafters can be replaced with an ‘A’ shape structure which creates a hollow space. While this can add additional costs, it could be a worthy investment, so take this into consideration during your planning process.
“Another thing to consider is the roof's height and pitch, and how that will impact the amount of space you’ll have. You’ll need a minimum height of 2.2m to ensure proper clearance. While you might be happy to settle for something a little shorter on paper, make sure your happy with the height you have and the effect it could have on the enjoyment of the space”, Insulation4Less advises.
The company recommends doing research before going to an architect or contractor. “Ultimately, look for other conversions on your street or in similar properties, and if you feel comfortable, ask if you can have a look and discuss how their project came together - you’ll find a wealth of information that could really help your own project in the future”.
Information credit: Insulation4Less.