In May 2013 the government decided to relax the rules for converting offices into residential flats, in a bid to create more housing. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) Order 2013 allowed for development of office buildings into residential accommodation without the need to apply for planning permission – but only until May 2016.
Since then, the government has continued to support the creation of new housing, even promising the creation of 1 million new homes within the next 5 years. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Housing and Planning Minister has recently announced that the government will be making these temporary development rights permanent in order to facilitate the conversion of existing office buildings that are no longer in use, into residential flats.
The announcement seems to indicate a move to allow existing office buildings that are run down to be completely demolished and rebuilt. Evidently, there will be restrictions to this rule and it is yet to be announced exactly what the parameters will be.
Since the change was initially announced in May 2013, over 7,000 new homes have been created from derelict office buildings and no doubt making these temporary development rights permanent will massively contribute to the government’s initiative to create 1 million new homes by 2020.