Do I need planning permission to turn my empty office space into flats?

February 28, 2013 11:29 am Published by

Surprisingly, the answer to this may well soon be ‘no’.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that from Spring 2013 through to Spring 2016, express planning permission will not, in most cases, be required to change the use of office accommodation to residential use.

Local authorities can, in theory, act to block this new right, but it is widely hoped that they will only do so in limited circumstances, as otherwise it would defeat the entire point of this initiative.

For considerable parts of the country, this means landlords, investors and developers now have an important new option to consider when looking at the future of their banked and/or mothballed office space. It goes without saying that residential accommodation in the right, central, locations can be extremely valuable and this new right is sure to set developers and investors tapping on their calculators.

At this point there is no means for a local authority to attach planning obligations to development of this sort, which means no affordable housing requirements, no amenities contributions, no public open space, just undiluted development.

External works to convertible buildings will still need planning permission and listed buildings will still need the applicable listed building consents, but otherwise, a key restriction in the development process has been lifted.

If you wish to discuss this article, please do contact Andrew Fleming, Company and Commercial Partner for an informal chat.

E: arf@blockslegal.co.uk

T: 01473 230033

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