Planning Update: office to residential conversion rights made permanent, Mayor’s advice to local authorities on avoiding these rights, Mayor’s viability disclosure requirements, and CIL and mezzanine floors

Authors: Matthew White, Partner and Head of Planning, and Lucy Morton, Professional Support Lawyer, Planning, London

Today's post is a planning update, summarising some of the recent and forthcoming changes to planning law and policy.

Please contact us for more information on any of these topics.

1.    Office to residential conversion rights made permanent

2.    Mayor's advice to London authorities on avoiding the office to residential conversion rights (new SPG for the Central Activities Zone)

3.    Mayor calls for more transparent viability information (new Housing SPG)

4.    Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), mezzanine floors and multiple planning applications

5.    Coming soon…


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What to look forward to in 2016: Planning changes on the horizon


Herbert Smith Freehills' real estate development team are monitoring a number of areas of law likely to change during 2016.  Here is a summary of some key areas of change we expect in the field of planning (from a development perspective), highlighting some opportunities these changes may present. 

For more information please contact Matthew White or Lucy Morton at Herbert Smith Freehills.

1. Office-to-residential conversion rights to be made permanent

2. Housing and Planning Bill due to become law

3. CIL Review Panel to report on whether CIL is meeting its objectives

4. Government's response expected on the National Planning Policy Framework consultation (including changes to green belt and affordable housing policies)

5. Affordable housing renegotiation provisions to expire on 30 April 2016, unless extended

6. Government due to respond to the Airports Commission Final Report (which recommended Heathrow expansion)

7. International property measurement standards changing

8. Carbon offsetting requirements expected to be amended or abolished

9.  National Infrastructure Commission to report at Budget 2016


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Office to residential conversion rights to be made permanent

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.

For more information please contact:.

Matthew White
Matthew White
Partner and Head of Planning, London
+44 20 7466 2461
Patrick Robinson
Patrick Robinson
Partner, Planning, London
+44 20 7466 2129