Developers created 12,500 new homes in empty schools, office blocks and retail spaces in the Netherlands last year, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS.

Together they accounted for 13% of the 71,000 new homes realised in 2019. Almost half the conversions came from transforming redundant or outdated office blocks.

Holland Metropole partner Rotterdam was top of the list – conversions accounted for 37% of the new homes on the market in the port city last year. In The Hague, 23% of new homes were conversions and in Amsterdam 17%.

In Eindhoven, the repurposing of buildings is also beginning to gather steam. In the city centre, for example, the former V&D department store is being converted into a mix of retail and residential property.

The upper floor is also being taken over by Microlab, a flexible working space company which will include studios, meeting rooms and a sky bar with views over the city.

The trend of converting shops and department store premises into residential and mixed use complexes is likely to continue. A recent report by real estate research group Locatus said that more retail space is likely to remain vacant in the coming period, as the coronavirus epidemic continues to boost the shift to online shopping, and fewer tourists visit popular holiday destinations such as Amsterdam.

It estimates the vacancy rate will grow from almost 8% to 10% next year, and that medium-sized cities, not the big urban conglomerations like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, are likely to be hardest hit.