Since 2012 the Government has relaxed the planning laws surrounding certain types of properties and buildings with the view to converting them to other uses. For example; an office block with a use class of B1 (business) could be converted to a residential dwelling or dwellings without the need for planning approval.
These new ‘Permitted Development’ rules were drafted in to give a boost to the housing supply. Plans to bring empty commercial buildings back in to use to increase housing supply by deregulating the planning system were set out in the Budget’s Growth Review.
Due to the recession of 2008, there were a record number of empty commercial buildings which had the potential to be converted to thousands of new homes. At present, the use classes which benefit from The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 are:
- A1 – shops
- A2 – finance and professional services
- A3 – restaurants and cafes
- B1 – business
- B8 – storage or distribution
- C1 – hotels
- D2 – assembly and leisure
- Agricultural buildings
There are restrictions on some of the use classes and in the future other use classes may be added to the list, which is great news for investors, developers and builders.
We work closely with investors, developers and builders to assess an existing commercial property and design the most suitable conversion for that property. We submit the necessary application forms and work closely with the local authority and other third parties to gain any approvals required for the project.