Office to residential permitted development right to be made permanent
A permanent “permitted development” right for change of use from office (class B1(a)) to residential (class C3) use will be introduced from May 2016, replacing the existing temporary right.
“Permitted development” is where a deemed planning permission is granted without having to go through the full planning application process.
The new right will allow office buildings to be demolished and new residential properties to be built in their place, subject to limitations.
The new right will also extend the time limit for schemes that already have prior approval under the temporary right, which will be welcome news to developers who had been rushing to complete relevant residential developments by May 2016.
Some areas of the country are excluded from this right, but these are mostly in London and do not include East Anglia.
Full details of exactly how the new right will operate in practice are still to be released. However, almost 4,000 office to residential conversions were given the go ahead under the temporary right between April 2014 and June 2015. It will therefore be interesting to see to what extent the new permanent right will help the government to unlock underused land and to achieve its goal of delivering one million homes by 2020.
Fenella Eddell is a solicitor in the property department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk solicitors.