Obtaining planning permission for a change of use from office to residential is challenging. Certain Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), including those in the boroughs of London, have specific set policies which seek to restrict such permissions due to concerns about loss of employment space.
In some cases these policies may be perfectly valid, but in many cases such policies are quite inflexible and fail to respond reasonably to quickly changing market conditions, personal circumstances or business viability. In cases such as these, it is up to professional consultants like us to show that external material considerations outweigh policy concerns.
Such concerns have led the government to release further permitted development rights, which are intended to allow the change of use from office to residential without obtaining formal planning permission. However, we have found that certain LPAs are still resistant to granting such permitted development rights and although planning permission is not required, insist on a formal “lightweight” process called prior approval, where certain aspects of the development are scrutinised. In this way policy is being brought in through a back door.
Contrary to this however are established permitted development rights which have been overshadowed by these new government initiatives. These rights continue to allow for the change of use of some offices to residential uses without the need to apply to the council for prior approval, thus avoiding the policy situation all together. Such permitted development rights only apply if the office use is associated with (or in certain cases is situated above) a shop, or other use in the A1 or A2 use class (subject to conditions).
It was by using this long established permitted development rights process, that we were able to change the use of offices located above, and associated with, an estate agents in Newham (use class A2) into two flats, without any prior approval checks, or policy influence what so ever.
If you are looking to change use through planning permission, prior approval, or through the older permitted development rights as we did in Newham, please contact one of our planning consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org . We can provide you with advice and guidance on what route or routes best suit your specific circumstances, and help you prepare the relevant applications.