In May 2013 the Government eased planning rules to allow offices to be converted into homes without the need for planning permission. The permitted development right was implemented for an initial period of three years, and despite further rights being introduced in April 2015 to allow the use of storage or distribution buildings to be changed to residential until April 2018, there has been no extension of the timescales to convert offices to residential.
The Government had consulted last year on extending the measure beyond the initial three year period, with the then Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, highlighting that responses to the consultation had raised “concern over the future availability of business premises, the impact on surrounding businesses and the quality of the new dwellings”.
Therefore, as things stand currently, the use of former office buildings as a Class C3 (dwellinghouses) will need to be begun on or before 30th May 2016 to avoid the need to apply for planning permission.
The window for advancing such proposals is therefore rapidly closing when allowing for the Council’s statutory determination period for considering applications for prior approval, the time required to implement any works necessary in order to successfully convert the building, and then subsequently bring it in to a residential use.
Therefore, if you believe you have a project which could benefit from these permitted development rights, or you require planning support in respect of a current or emerging proposal, then please contact us now for further advice and information.