The Government has announced a consultation following its proposal to amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended) to grant permitted development rights to changes of use from commercial uses to residential uses. This would allow changes of use without the need for planning permission.
The proposed reform would allow some Class B uses (EG B1 (Business), B2 (General Industrial) and B8 (Distribution and Storage) to change to Class 3 (Dwelling Houses) without the need for planning permission.
The intention is to try and make it easier for a developer to convert, say, redundant offices into residential houses or flats. With some 7 to 9% of Commercial Property Redundant and empty, a significant oversupply of commercial property could be converted into residential property to help alleviate the shortage of available properties and sites for housebuilding. In 2009 to 2010, this percentage of 2.8% coming from converted buildings is significantly lower than could be the case.
“If all the long term office space currently available was converted it could potentially deliver 250,000 new homes and save just under £140 million over ten years in red tape costs,” Eric Pickles stated.
The Communities Secretary continued, “Many towns and cities have office blocks, warehouse and business parks needlessly lying empty, while housebuilding has fallen to the lowest in peace-time history because the planning system has tied developers up in knots of red tape.
“By unshackling developers from a legacy of bureaucratic planning we can help them turn thousands of vacant commercial properties into enough new homes to jump start housing supply and help get the economy back on track. Councils already have powers to give greater local planning discretion and they should use them more to promote growth.”
Decentralisation and Planning Minister Greg Clark added: “Patterns of office use have changed as employers prefer large open plan spaces to individual offices, and as more and more people work from home. That has meant that there are many offices that have been vacant for years.
“This change will make it easy to turn redundant offices into much needed homes. This will replace derelict properties with buildings in good use, contribute to relieving Britain’s housing shortage and give a valuable boost to the building industry.”
In addition, Ministers have announced a full review of national planning policy by 2012, and a commitment to reduce regulations on housebuilders, including the introduction of a local standards framework. The Homes and Communities Agency is also examining how the disposal of publicly owned land can be used for housing.
This consultation seeks views on the Government’s proposals to amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended) to grant permitted development rights to changes of use from commercial to residential, i.e. to allow such changes of use without the need for planning applications.
The consultation document itself can be downloaded from the government website via this link:
2nd May 2011