Rights to convert offices to residential dwellings made permanent

In an announcement from the government last week, it has been confirmed that rights, which allow offices to be converted into homes, will be made permanent from 6th April.

According to current Permitted Development rights in England*, full planning permission is not required for the change of use of an office (under class B1a) to a dwelling house (under class C3), provided certain conditions are met. At present, there is a condition in place, which says that the change must be begun before 30th May 2016.

But now, the government has announced an amendment to the legislation which removes the deadline of 30th May and as from 6th April 2016, office owners are without time restriction and are free to exercise their Permitted Development rights to change their property to a residential dwelling, if they so wish.

The amendment also includes a new condition allowing local planning authorities to consider "impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development". The change also specifies that proposed changes will have to be completed within three years of prior approval.

Also included is a new temporary permitted development right for the change of use from light industrial to housing, up to a maximum floorspace of 500 square metres, which will come into force on 1 October 2017 for three years.

These changes are welcomed and are an indication of the government's commitment to increasing the flexibility of the planning system and boosting the supply of new housing in England.

For further information on these recent changes or to talk to us about your Planning requirements, please contact David Jones.

*Set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 Schedule 2 Part 3 Class O.