UK planning expert reacts to new rules on conversion of offices into homes / by rachel


Changes to permitted development rights, enabling developers to convert offices into homes without planning permission, have been contained in secondary legislation laid in UK parliament. Lance Flannigan, Director of Planning at global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, said: “We welcome the announcement because it overrides restrictive and outdated planning policies which, for too long and often for no good reason, have been used by local authorities to block the supply of new homes on the basis that it will result in a loss of office and employment space. In a large number of cases, local authorities have an over-supply of office space and much of this is obsolete.

“Nevertheless, we suspect that the UK government has overestimated the beneficial effect of the change on the supply of new homes and we are advising clients to proceed with caution.

“In most, if not all, cases the conversion of office buildings to residential will involve work which will require planning permission and the new permitted development right will not affect planning requirements to provide affordable housing or the ability of local authorities to secure financial contributions via the Community Infrastructure Levy or S106 agreements. This is justified on the basis that all new housing should contribute financially towards the infrastructure required to support it.

“The change may remove some policy obstacles and planning red tape but, in our view, it doesn't respond to calls for the government to reduce the financial burden on home-building imposed through the planning system.

“17 local authorities, including several London boroughs and larger metropolitan authorities, have been granted an exemption to the new right. In these areas restrictive policies will continue to apply and it will be business as usual."

Image – Blackpool Council recently awarded outline planning permission for 410-home neighbourhood in the heart of Blackpool, with the masterplan, dwelling and landscape design delivered by Broadway Malyan for client Hollinwood Homes, part of the Marcus Worthington Group.

Distinguished by its global reach with 16 offices across world centres, unrivalled diversity with over 500 sector experts and distinctive client focus with over 85% income from repeat business, Broadway Malyan creates world-class and fully-integrated cities, places and buildings to unlock lasting value and deliver a ‘return on design’.

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