Monday, 19 August 2013
Office to residential – some interesting examples
There are interesting and encouraging signs that some LPAs are taking a positive and proactive approach to the new permitted development right allowing the conversion of offices to residential use. Furthermore, despite the doubts I expressed initially, it seems that there are no qualms about multiple conversions, involving the creation of a significant number of new flats within a single large office building.
I understand that Birmingham City Council has recently approved a 120-unit conversion in an office building in the city under the prior approval procedure introduced in May, rather than by means of an application for full planning permission. Other large schemes are in the pipeline around the country, but a few authorities are showing a degree of reluctance to accept such conversions, even for single units. As I have observed before, we shall have to await the outcome of a number of appeals before it becomes clear how the issues that arise from the drafting of the legislation are likely to be resolved.
It seems that the LPAs that are responding positively to these prior approval applications are fully prepared to accept that there is no opportunity to seek any element of affordable housing in such schemes and that the scope for securing other benefits from developers is limited. If there are any LPAs that don’t accept this, they may find out the hard way, through the appeals process, what the true limits of their powers are under the new prior approval procedure.
© MARTIN H GOODALL