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Office to residential, could you live in an old office?

You may have noticed while going along a high street some interesting recent developments: buildings which were previously offices have been converted to residential use. This is because as part of its drive to boost housing since 2013 the government has granted permitted development rights (in other words deemed planning permission) for change of use of buildings and the land in which they are situated formerly used as offices within Class B(1)(a) Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) to dwelling houses within Class C3. 

This was initially a temporary right for 3 years from 30th May 2013 to 30th May 2016, and became Class J in the General Planning & Development (Amendment) Order 2013.  It enabled developers to breathe new life into failing high streets, and in doing so increase commercial properties the values of the properties, as they usually find a ready market to sell or rent their developments out due to the housing shortage, and in many areas residential floor spaces can command a higher price per square foot than commercial.  Developers would often apply for Notification of Prior Approval for the change of use, which would give them 56 days to apply for the detailed planning permission.

However, this facility was temporary only and is due to expire later this year.  On 12th October of last year it was announced that this temporary right is to be made permanent from this coming May.  Under the General Permitted Development Order 2015 this permanent right has been enshrined as Class O in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, giving developers a permanent opportunity to benefit from this change.

There are exceptions, as is to be expected. In particular these will apply for a specific period to certain commercial areas which are currently exempt, such as the City of London.  However, fortunately these do not apply to the areas in which we primarily operate, Beckenham, Bromley, Camberwell, Clerkenwell, Croydon, Crystal Palace and Orpington.  We have recently seen an upsurge of uptake of the temporary permitted development rights in these areas, and this will no doubt only increase once they become permanent.

There have also been some potentially useful extensions to the rights which will in future include demolition as well as conversion of office buildings and enable changes of use of launderettes and some light industrial buildings to residential use, although exactly how this will operate remains to be seen.

This is an exciting new development which will encourage both small and larger scale developers to proceed with these projects, and is something we are expecting to see much more of in the future.

We at Amphlett Lissimore have acquired wide expertise in dealing with this type of matter, both in the initial acquisition of the properties and their subsequent disposal when converted.  If you would like more information or have a venture in mind please contact one of our experienced Commercial Property solicitors.             



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