On May 30th, the Government changed the General Permitted Development Order which introduced new rules allowing the change from B1 office use to C3 residential use, subject to prior approval from the local authority. The Government claimed it had introduced the new office permitted development rights to boost economic growth and create more homes. This appears to be working as Carter Planning have already obtained agreement to convert office buildings to residential units in Hammersmith, Reading, Reigate, and Newbury.
The change of use from offices to residential is subject to a “prior approval” process where the proposed change of use could have significant transport and highways impact, or the development is within a safety hazard zone, or area of high flood risk and land contamination. Under the prior approval process, the Council is notified of the change and decides whether to permit or refuse it. A fee of £80 is required. If refused, a full planning application would have to be submitted to convert the premises.
Planning permission will also be required where the consequential changes of the change of use result in material external alterations to the building.
Seventeen councils have won exemptions to the new rights, which are in place temporarily for three years.