Viewpoint: Demand for leisure sheds shows no sign of slowing
"Sheds are a great blank canvas and can, in theory, be used for
just about anything with some tweaks. They're usually well
connected, especially if originally intended for distribution, and
surrounded by yards which make for great parking spaces. They offer
huge potential for large scale activities, are not usually
surrounded by residential properties which can put restrictions on
use, and they're cheap, so it's easy to see why they're an
"A lot of these operations are small-scale or independent
businesses, with many owners acting upon a great idea, but having
little commercial property experience, so professional advisors can
add genuine value to their business plan. Alongside an application
for change of use and securing funding, the operator must look at
the adaptations that will need to be made when it comes to services
and the building fabric.
"Most are housing activities which produce heat - either from
the participants themselves or the equipment being used. The
heating, insulation, ventilation and climate control in place for a
storage and distribution warehouse is not likely to be adequate for
a consumer use, and installation of insulation, air conditioning or
natural ventilation may be advised.
"The power usage of the new operation may exceed that of the
building's original use and could require boosting. This is
something which can be done in negotiation with the electricity
supplier, with a view to both current and potential future
requirements. If there is the chance they could expand their range
of activities, putting the services in place at the very start is
going to be more cost-effective.
"Office or café space could be created with the installation of
a mezzanine floor, and the bathroom or changing facilities will
need to be improved and extended to meet the demands of the
increased number of visitors the building will receive.
"The entrance to a warehouse is usually fairly non-descript, so
the creation of a customer-friendly reception area is an investment
many will make. A comprehensive design would involve using
lighting, heating, decoration, floor covering and furniture to
create the welcoming space, often distinct from the activity floor
"Such adaptations are not going to cost the earth but they will
make the snowdome, race track, jump park or football pitch less of
a 'shed' and more a place people will want to come regularly and
spend their time and money."