In 2013 the government introduced temporary permitted developments rights which allowed property owners to convert office premises into new homes without having to apply for planning permission.
These rights were due to expire on 30 May 2016, however the government has recently announced that these permitted development rights will be made permanent. Full details have yet to be provided, but the government has confirmed that these rights will extend to light industrial buildings and launderettes.
The announcement has been welcomed by some who consider the initiative helps in the fight to overcome the current housing shortage. However, there are others who consider the relax in planning has resulted in poor quality housing being built and has created further problems by producing a shortage of affordable commercial office space.
Local planning authorities do retain some control as the rights to convert are subject to limitations and prior approval. In addition local authorities can also rely on the right to issue an Article 4 direction to remove these permitted development rights if need be.
Permitted development rights from Office to Residential have been popular with 4,000 conversions being given the go ahead in the last 18 months, and in light of the government's announcement we look set to see more commercial offices being converted into new homes in the future.