More than 90% of MPs think that converting empty spaces above shops could help reverse the current housing shortage, research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed.

The survey results coincide with the launch of research by the FMB, Homes on our high streets, which looks at the opportunities for creating new homes in a range of different building types being used for retail.


The report puts councils at the heart of the solution and suggests some practical ways for them to facilitate the development of wasted space above shops.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “It is estimated that as many as 300,000 to 400,000 new homes could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets. This is space just waiting to be turned into residential accommodation.

“The fact that 90% of MPs of all parties recognise the potential of our existing buildings to help solve the housing crisis means we need to be more imaginative if we are going to build the 300,000 homes a year that the chancellor pledged in last month’s Budget.”

Delivering a speech to the FMB in parliament, secretary of state Sajid Javid said: “We’ll be looking at [the report] very closely to see how it can help us to fix this country’s broken housing market.”

The report’s findings encourage councils to include ways to use space above shops and suggestions to overcoming barriers in planning documents.