Discussing Permitted Development Rights to convert office buildings to residential use and the benefits that they bring
Advantage’s structural insurance experts are often contacted by potential clients who are converting existing commercial spaces (such as offices or retail spaces) into residential units, and we work with them at every stage of the project to ensure that they have the appropriate cover in place. Office conversions are particularly popular, and at a time when much is being written about the under-supply of new housing in the UK, they can, of course, transform redundant office space into prime residential space.
As many PBC Today readers will be aware, Permitted Development Rights to convert office buildings to residential use have had a widespread take-up since their introduction in a 2015 Order, followed by their confirmation as a permanent right in 2016. They avoid the need for full planning permission, and Permitted Development Rights are granted by Parliament rather than local authorities.
The Advantage team will most commonly deal with clients who are getting a Change of Use from Office (B1) to Residential (C3), but other types of conversion are covered under Permitted Development Rights (and exclusions are listed via The Planning Portal).
However, conversions are not the only route to replacing old offices with new homes. Following the Conservative Party Conference in October 2019, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the government is looking into allowing commercial buildings to be demolished and rebuilt as homes through the relatively new Planning in Principle (PiP) route, and Environment Analyst stated that: “Freedom to demolish could be the Conservatives’ ‘next big thing.’” They add: “On the face of it, the idea looks logical. It’s not hard to see that there is an escalation of redundant and empty commercial buildings in the UK, in response to economic forces that are moving business activity away from city centres. It’s also not hard to see that the current planning development process moves very slowly.”
Perhaps we’ll be writing for PBC Today about our clients’ commercial to residential case studies via the PiP route in the future. However, we anticipate that whatever the future holds in terms of planning rules, we’re likely to see continued interest in PDRs.
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