This month I am taking a look at a really interesting investment made by a landlord of mine. He recently purchased a vacant building on Templemore Avenue in East Belfast. We believe it used to be the old ‘meals on wheels’ admin centre, but was certainly most recently being used as offices.
However, it has been unused for some time, and this property investor immediately spotted the potential to turn this neglected old building into some smart new-build apartments.
I won’t give away exactly how much he paid, but let’s just say it was under the £100,000 mark. I spoke to my good friend Alan Ritchie of C60 Architects and Town Planners, who is working with this buy-to-let investor on development ideas and plans for the building and site.
The project is currently at the planning stage, and plans have been submitted which are currently under consideration with the planning office. They are proposing to convert the property to 2 x 3-bed flats and 4 x 1-bed flats.
Alan reckons a further £200,000 of investment and 20 – 23 weeks’ construction work is most likely what is needed to convert it into the attractive little flats the client wants – subject to planning permission of course. On that topic, the original plan had been to include more 1-bed flats, however this wasn’t to be, as Alan explains.
“We would have preferred to get more 1-bed apartments in this development, but the planners said no.
“According to the planners, with any kind of regeneration or apartments, anything that’s becoming a dwelling unit – you need to also deliver outside amenity space. Whether that is a balcony, a yard or a shared space, you need to provide a certain amount of metres per unit.
“So, you can’t just fill these up with 1-beds, because providing sufficient amenity space for that number of units is sometimes not practical.
“The planners also don’t allow any units to solely face the rear of the property, all of them have to have a street view.
“In the original planning application, the 2 x 3-beds were originally meant to be 4 x 1-beds, with some facing the front, some facing the back. The backward-facing properties overlooked private landscaped gardens, but they wouldn’t allow it.
“All properties had to have forward-facing from their main living space. So, you can put bedrooms to the back, the living space all has to face the front.
“We would argue this stance is actually a misinterpretation of planning law, and we have contacted the planning officers with our concerns. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of that, but in the meantime, it’s advisable to bear that in mind - an investor could buy a building, planning to fill it with 1-bed flats and find out that’s actually not possible.”
Despite planning issues, C60 know this area well and believe it potentially offers a lot of opportunity to property investors. The area around Holywood Arches and the Newtownards Road have been and continue to be the focus for regeneration efforts.
Current projects include the Connswater Community Greenway, Belfast Rapid Transit and Urban Villages initiatives - all managed by the Strategic Investment Board.
Alan comments, “Templemore Leisure Centre’s also going to be redeveloped and that’s going to inject a big boost to the area. There’s a certain grandeur to Templemore Avenue; it’s a wide boulevard style street, with nice buildings. The regeneration of the leisure centre will help all of that and pull it all together.”
Apt 14, 112 Templemore Avenue
Asking price: £49,950
Monthly rent: £400 - 450 p/m
Yield: 9.6 - 10.8%
A very healthy potential yield for an apartment which needs little, if any, refurbishment work and is slap bang in the middle of an area that’s on the up and up.
Investment involves risk and the value of capital and the income derived from it may go up as well as down. Past performance is no guide to future performance. Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of The Belfast Property Blog. Nothing in this article should be regarded as advice, it has no regard for the requirements of any particular person.