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One in 5 office-to-residential conversions blocked in England

Words: Laura Edgar

One in five of around 5,000 applications to convert offices into flats across England was blocked by councils, according to research.

The research considers government data from April 2014 to June 2015.

Analysis by property consultant Daniel Watney LLP shows that 916 out of 4,887 applications for office-to-residential conversion were refused on ‘prior approval’ grounds, which is still required where certain regulations or consents are needed.

In London, one in four (493 out of 1,959) was refused while the average for other cities was one in 10.

The capital received more applications than most other local authorties with four in 10 being made between April 2014 and June 2015.

Charles Mills, partner at Daniel Watney, said that the conversion of offices has been a “reliable source” of new homes.

“The prior approval process is important to ensure the safety of developments and the local area - and doubtless many of these rejections will be justified - but councils must not misuse it as a workaround to veto residential conversions that the new permitted development rights were intended to encourage.”

For a copy of the data, please contact Daniel Watney.