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Rules To Convert Offices Into Homes Are Not Meeting Needs - Says Survey

Local Authorities Claim That Some Businesses Had Been Served With Eviction Notices


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

A local government survey has suggested that Government planning rules aimed at bringing empty offices back into use are not meeting local housing needs and will put infrastructure under strain if made permanent.

Introduced last year, the permitted development regime changes allow offices to be turned into housing without planning permission. Although at the present time a number of authorities received exemptions from the policy, from 2016 the temporary rules will be made permanent. 

According to the Local Government Association poll, four in 10 planning officers said the measures had reduced office space within the local area and only two in 10 thought it had brought vacant office premises back into use.

More than half of councils agreed the measures had resulted in housing which does not meet identified need. It also suggested that in some areas, landlords have served businesses with eviction notices in order to benefit from higher residential rents and sale prices.

Respondents to the study also said that office space and affordable housing would lessen and infrastructure would be put under strain if the temporary changes to permitted development were made permanent from 2016.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Our change of use reforms are providing badly needed homes such as studios and one-bedroom flats for young people, especially in London where there is a particularly acute need for more housing.

"This is helping promote brownfield regeneration, protect the green belt and increase housing supply at no cost to the taxpayer. More housing in town centres also increases resident footfall and supports local shops.

"The Local Government Association simply oppose these changes as town halls can't hammer these regeneration schemes with punishing development taxes."

Oliver Martin, Partner and National Head of Planning at Irwin Mitchell, said:

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