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Serious opportunities to convert offices into homes


Empty offices or offices that are expected to become vacant in the coming period will potentially yield 11,500 homes for the housing market. This is evident from an analysis by Cushman & Wakefield. This concerns 665,000 m2 of office space, which is immediately suitable for conversion into homes. In total, approximately 2.1 million square meters of office space is redundant in the Netherlands. Not every office lends itself to direct transformation, but an area-oriented approach can be a solution in part, as a result of which the number of 11,500 homes can still increase. With the analysis, Cushman & Wakefield wants to provide insight into where in the Netherlands there is space within the existing built environment to realize homes in order to achieve spatial efficiency. 

Frank van der Sluys, partner at Cushman & Wakefield: “The results offer part of the solution to the challenges that Minister Hugo de Jonge named in the spatial planning letter of 17 May. We must explore all possibilities to solve the housing shortage, without losing sight of the fact that there is sufficient space for office users and the manufacturing industry in cities. Potentially, more homes can be built, but then a broader area-oriented approach is needed to transform industrial estates into residential areas.” 

Most potential outside the Randstad area 
Transforming these offices ensures more efficient use of space in both the office market and the housing market. The provinces just outside the Randstad appear to have the most potential for this form of renovation. Vacancy in good work locations within the Randstad is exceptionally low, while vacancy rates will increase in other places in the Netherlands. In the office market, qualitative scarcity and quantitative oversupply go hand in hand. This offers opportunities for more efficient use of space for various functions. Outside the Randstad, this mainly concerns areas that are also referred to as brownfields. The advantage is that these are areas where existing infrastructures and lighting can also be used. 

More potential in the area approach 
In the Netherlands we have approximately 2.1 million square meters of redundant office space. This is a total of 1,622 offices that could potentially become 33,500 homes. However, not all space is suitable for conversion into homes. The part that is not immediately suitable is often located on industrial estates. An individual transformation is therefore not logical. Transforming these offices requires an area-oriented approach.

Frank van der Sluys: “We have to deal with our spaces sustainably. It is good to look at the existing built environment and what opportunities you can use there. Because those opportunities are there. With the fact that central, accessible places in cities are becoming increasingly important for offices, this also means that other places in the Netherlands are becoming less suitable for offices. Covid-19 has accelerated this development, reducing the area of the city that is still suitable for office space.” 


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