Turning ex-retail premises into residential property will give High Streets in the UK a new lease of life, boosting landlords, new research suggests.

Some 72% of property professionals, including investors, owners, developers, consultants, contractors, property managers and letting agents, see residential development of former retail premises as a way forward.

They survey from global property technology company MRI Software, also found that 82% say projects to redevelop former retail premises to create mixed-use properties, including residential, will be a lucrative opportunity over the next 12 to 18 months.

‘The challenges faced by retail won’t be solved by a shift to residential, but the trend will be a significant boost to opportunities for property owners. Retail property owners will increasingly become residential landlords,’ said Colin O’Reilly, EMAE sales director.

‘Ultimately, more people living in town centres will enhance the opportunities for retailers and other businesses, such as coffee shops, health clubs and entertainment venues,’ he pointed out.

The poll also asked respondents about Brexit and found that 68% of senior property professionals say that as long as a soft Brexit is achieved, the UK property industry will continue to have good access to the funding it needs to develop properties.

While almost half, some 44%, say a hard Brexit would seriously hurt the ability of the UK property industry to get the funding it needs to develop properties while 58% think Brexit will cause housing prices to fall.

‘The survey reveals confidence among senior property professionals that the industry can ride out Brexit, reflecting a generally positive outlook that it can find opportunities amid market disruption. We see in the findings that few of the property experts see Brexit hampering the industry’s ability to get the funding it needs for development, even with a hard Brexit,’ said Dermot Briody, executive managing director, Europe at MRI.

‘The one cautious note struck in the results was the fact that a majority see Brexit likely to cause housing prices to fall but even then, more than 40% do not. And close to two thirds see it having only a minimal impact on the rental market,’ he explained.

‘This is an industry that has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs and, once the new market environment is established, it will be moving forward and looking to take advantage of openings,’ he added.