Commercial property expert Mark Blackford has moved to Gloucestershire estate agents Perry Bishop, as the firm challenges the current view of some that the high street is dead.
Mr Blackford was brought in by the Cheltenham headquartered estate agents as it pivots – also taking over Cirencester-based Harcastles estate agents, as well as opening its new commercial arm, headed by Mr Blackford – a sign of its confidence in the county and its property market.
With 16 years experience, and an associate of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), he knows the challenges faced by businesses owners and those who own the premises they operate from, and he does not buy into the mantra ‘the end is nigh’ – far from it.
‘The death of the high street? I’m not so sure it is quite as bad as people think. I think what we will see is probably the re-set button as far as the high street is concerned,’ said Mr Blackford, who said the drive towards converting some former commercial premises to residential was also a key area to watch.
‘The landlords have been getting a good return for 30 years, but they will have to be a lot more flexible now.
‘And I think as that happens, it will encourage new businesses to move in, as long as the rents are right and they can get good deals.
‘People want to support local businesses and we are seeing aspiring new faces stepping forward. And to get their properties filled, landlords are adapting.’
Perry Bishop does not plan to target the new-build, bigger spaces at one end of the commercial property market. Its focus is where it thinks the action will be, the existing business spaces – helping those who want to open that tea rooms, art galleries or artisan bakeries or convert their premises to apartments.
The firm’s press release on his appointment talks of the nation entering ‘an unprecedented time for entrepreneurs and the brave dreamers’ who see now as the time to go into business.
Mr Blackford added: ‘It’s going to be an interesting marketplace, with more commercial property becoming available to convert.
‘Landlords and property owners are going to have the opportunity to play with space, with commercial becoming available to change into residential or other possible commercial uses. The change of planning process will also liven the market up.’
His appointment also comes as the Gloucestershire property business also quietly changes its name from Perry Bishop and Chambers to Perry Bishop, as Peter Chambers retires from his role as director and now works as a consultant within the business
By Andrew Merrell