Office-to-residential conversions and permitted development rights

By Marcus Woody

Permitted development rights introduced in May 2013 allow the change of use of buildings from B1(a) (offices) to C3 (dwelling houses), subject to a prior approval process by the local planning authority (LPA).

This avoids the need for an express planning permission, but there are a number of significant qualifications, including: the rights only apply to buildings used as an office immediately before 30 May 2013 or, if vacant, where its last use was as an office — as such vacant new offices are excluded; only B1(a) offices can be converted, not office units within A2 financial or professional services nor B1(b) or (c) offices i.e, research and development or light industry respectively; listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments are excluded; associated external physical development may still require planning permission.

Prior approval of the LPA is required in relation to flooding, highways and contamination matters only. The LPA has 56 days from receipt of the application to confirm whether further details in relation to these matters is required, failing which development may proceed…

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