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Business, taken personally.

New rights to convert light industrial buildings to residential now in force

Posted by Natalie Kay on 20th November 2017

Creating more housing remains one of the Government’s top priorities. In an effort to encourage this, as well as making permanent the right to convert from offices to residential, from 1 October 2017, a temporary permitted development right has been granted to allow conversion of light industrial buildings (within planning class B1(c)) to residential (class C3) without the need for planning permission.

What are the conditions and limitations?

The permitted development right can only be used if:

  • The building was solely used for light industrial use on 19 March 2014 (or this was its last use); and

  • The gross floorspace of the existing building does not exceed 500sqm.

To use this new permitted development right, prior approval is required from the Local Authority on limited matters (giving consideration to matters such as transport/highways impacts, contamination and flood risks and the impact on the sustainability of provision of industrial, storage or distribution services in the area). This system is intended to be a “light-touch process”, delivering administrative and time savings to developers, as well as reducing planning fees.

Like the original office to residential permitted development right, the new industrial to residential right is available for an initial three year period (i.e. prior approval must be granted before 1 October 2020), although the change of use itself will be permanent once made.

The right does not apply to:

  • Buildings within sites of special scientific interest

  • Listed buildings;

  • Scheduled monuments; or

  • Areas where the relevant Local Authority have issued a direction withdrawing the right.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the permitted development right covers only the change of use itself so any external works that need to be done to the building as part of the conversion may still need planning permission (and/or building regulations approval).

Given these provisos, it remains to be seen whether or not the permitted development right will boost housing delivery to a significant extent.

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