On the same day as announcing the Housing and Planning Bill (13 October 2015), the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the temporary permitted development rights which allow conversions from office to residential use will be made permanent.
In May 2013 permitted development rights were altered to allow a change of use from offices (use class B1(a)) to residential (use class C3) without the need to make a full planning application. The rights were due to expire on 30 May 2016 but the Government has now confirmed that the rights will be made permanent. This means that there is no rush to get prior approvals for converting offices into homes, or to complete the change of use, before 30 May. Those who already have prior approvals or permission will have three years in which to complete the change of use.
To further support the delivery of new homes, the rights will in future allow the demolition of office buildings and encourage new building for residential use. The current exemptions on economic grounds for some local authorities will be removed and those authorities will have until May 2019 to make an Article 4 Direction if they wish to opt out of the permitted development rights.
However we have not yet seen the amending legislation and the rights are proving controversial, with no requirements for affordable housing and no requirements relating to the quality of the homes.
Amending legislation is expected before 30 May 2016.
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