We have successfully secured planning for the change of use of the former editorial offices for the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard newspaper to become three stylish self-contained flats (C3 use) and a retail unit (A1 use).
Planning and strategy setting
As part of our initial review of the project, we established that the prior approval route, which utilises permitted development rights to convert offices to residential, could not be used as the property was Grade II listed, meaning that a full change of use and listed building consent was required.
Key considerations for a change of use in a conservation area
Following our strategy review, we ascertained that the main considerations for the application were: (1) Loss of Employment (Office) Use; (2) Impact on a Listed Building; and (3) Impact on a Conservation Area.
We worked effectively with the project team to ensure the integrity of the existing building was retained whilst improvements were made, securing the long-term use of the building and high-quality living and retail space. We also used our vast experience and expertise to source, collate and compile all the relevant information needed to demonstrate compliance with policy and present the proposal in the best possible light. Key issues included:
Loss of Employment
Our robust application set out the policy support for residential development at upper floors of premises in the town centre. In addition, the creation of an A1 retail unit – a main town centre use – at ground floor, further ensured policy compliance in relation to the retention of an employment use. Evidence was also presented to demonstrate the lack of interest from potential buyers of an office use, signalling the lack of demand for such a use.
Given the property’s Grade II listing, in addition to its location within the Cirencester Conservation Area, careful consideration was given to ensuring a sympathetic conversion which saw the retention of the original principal elevation with only restorative works proposed resulting in a positive impact on this key facade. In addition, minimal internal alterations were proposed to the historic, listed part of the property to preserve the historic layout.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
Following the grant of planning permission and listed building consent, we were delighted to save our client over £28,000 in CIL costs by sourcing and supplying evidence to prove the property had been in six months of continuous existing use within the last three years. This enabled the CIL costs to be fully offset.
How a Planning Consultant Can Help
If you are considering a change of use and aren’t sure how best to proceed, it is wise to seek the support of a planning consultant. Within a few hours of research, we should be in a position to advise whether you require formal planning permission, and which application route will be most suitable for your requirements. This is particularly pertinent given the changes to the use class order effective from 1 September 2020.
Contact Alex via email@example.com or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project. You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information you provide will not be shared outside our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.
Image source: RRA Architects (2020)