Planning Shake Up
On 13 October the Government announced that new measures would be introduced to make it easier to turn under used office buildings into new homes. Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis explained that the measures were designed to "tap into the potential of underused buildings to offer new homes for first-time buyers and families long into the future". First and foremost will be the permanent extension of the permitted development rights to allow offices to be converted to new homes without having to apply for planning permission (currently due to expire on 30 May 2016). Those who already have prior approval or permission will have three years to finish the conversion works. This will end a lot of anxiety about precisely what would constitute "completion" to satisfy reliance on the regulations.
In addition, further changes will be introduced to allow for demolition of an existing office building and the construction of a new residential building under permitted development rights subject to limitations and prior approval. The new permitted development rights will also allow for the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes, subject again to the prior approval process.
The precise timing for these changes is still not known but they will certainly be welcomed.