In today’s market, the demand for residential flats is growing higher by the day. The Government has laid an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Order 1995 (General Permitted Development) which states that it is now possible to convert Class B1 office buildings to Class C3 residential spaces without applying for planning permission. This regulation came into action on May 30th 2013 and was initially only set to run for a three year period. However, in April 2016, the office- to-residential conversion was placed under permitted development rights indefinitely, allowing construction to under-go without the previous timeframes.
Although the office to residential conversion abides by the permitted development rights, it is usually necessary to apply for a Prior Approval application, submitting a full written description of the development (including details on the transport and highway impacts, flood and contamination risks and noise), a site plan and the developer’s contact details. A fee may be charged for the application. These are the transportation and highway elements that determine the council’s decision as to whether the development is ‘likely to result in a material increase or a material change in the character of traffic in the vicinity of the site’.
In relation to flood risks, this depends on the location’s flood zone rankings (1, 2 or 3)
Regarding contamination, the council will evaluate whether the grounds are classed under Part 2 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. If they are, they must reject the prior approval application.
From examining these factors, the council must make a decision regarding whether or not the prior approval is necessary within 58 days of the application.
If your property conforms with the set criteria for prior approval, your council should not ask for any extra planning policies.
These new rights apply to almost the whole of England, except:
- Central Activities Zone & Tech City in London, covering the City of London and parts of Islington, Tower of Hamlets, Hackney, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Southwark, Westminster and Camden
- Isle of Dog
- Kensington & Chelsea
- Manchester City Centre
- Areas of Sevenoaks, Ashford & East Hampshire
- Royal Docks of Enterprise zone – Newham
- Milton Park Enterprise Zone & Harwell Enterprise Zone – Vale of White Horse
For these specific areas, the conversion of an office building to a residential building will require planning permission to be granted by the council.