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Office-to-residential conversion change made permanent

Words: Huw Morris

Changes to permitted development rights allowing offices to be converted into homes are to be made permanent.

In moves unveiled under the Housing and Planning Bill, the temporary change introduced in 2013 will become permanent after 4,000 conversions were given the green light between April 2014 and June this year.

The move was denounced by the Town and Country Planning Association.

“The decision to extend permitted development from office to residential seriously undermines the ability to create decent homes in vibrant communities,” said chief executive Kate Henderson. "The government says it is committed to localism and that it wants planning to give power to local communities. However, the announcement means that local communities will have even less say over how their neighbourhoods are developed."

The British Property Federation welcomed the move, adding that extending the rights is “a useful tool in breathing life back into underused commercial space” while thriving areas such as the City of London should be protected.

Chief executive Melanie Leech said: "The policy was never designed to deliver a huge number of new homes, but any trip through our suburbs soon exposes redundant office space that with the best will in the world is never going to be brought back into commercial use, and for such situations this policy is helpful."