Housing minister Brandon Lewis has uncovered more details of the UK government’s decision to permanently permit empty offices to be converted into residences without planning permission.
Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced the move as part of a series of reforms. The policy was scheduled to expire on May 30, 2016, but now the due date has been extended.
Mr Lewis confirmed that in addition to making the policy permanent, those who already have planning permission will be given three years to finish the conversion, ending a potential uncertainty for developers.
These rights will now permit the demolition and conversion of industrial buildings, office buildings, and launderettes.
The LGA opposes the extension. Peter Box, housing spokesman cllr, said that the temporary policy was intended to make it easier to rejuvenate empty offices, but some local councils have reported the eviction of existing businesses by landlords wanting to profit from the higher sale prices and rates associated with residential use.
Mr Box pointed out that such activities have reduced the amount of office space required for economic growth and in some instances replaced it with housing that does not meet local needs and remains unaffordable.
The policy came into effect in 2013 as a means of temporarily providing development rights to convert offices into homes without delays associated with planning permission. According to Whitehall, 4,000 homes were brought forth between April 2014 and last June.
The UK government stated that eliminating these rights in 2016 could possibly introduce red tape and bureaucratic complications that would impede conversions and slow down the production and delivery of new homes.