On 24 January 2013, the Secretary of Sate for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles announced the coalition’s policy to allow offices to be converted into homes without planning permission.
Having initially been considered in 2011 the government subsequently stated in July 2012 that it would not be implementing plans. However, the proposal was then revived in September 2012.
The new permitted development will allow a change of use from B1(a) offices to C3 residential.
Whilst individual local authorities will be permitted to apply for an exemption to this new rule any application must be justified on economic grounds and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. The local authorities will be expected to show that “the introduction of these new permitted development rights in a particular area will lead to the loss of a nationally significant area of economic activity or substantial adverse economic consequences at the local authority level which are not offset by the positive benefits that the new rights would bring”.
Once local authority applications for the exemption have been considered the new regulations will be brought forward.
It is understood that the new rules will only apply for 3 years and will involve a detailed assessment taking into account factors such as transport, flood risks and land contamination.
To read the full written statement give by Mr Pickles and for further details on other planning use changes, please click here