Commercial property solicitor and planning lawyer, Nick Arthur reports on the Government’s proposed reforms aimed at making it easier to convert commercial premises to residential accommodation

The Government is now commencing a formal consultation on relaxing the planning rules for changes of use from commercial to residential.

This is in response to a recognised need to increase housing supply. It is hoped that the move will promote regeneration of commercial land and help bring empty commercial buildings back into productive use.

The intention is to amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to allow changes of use from commercial to residential as permitted development, rather than requiring planning applications.

Whilst the main proposal is to allow changes from B1 (business – offices, research and development premises and light industry) to C3 (dwellinghouses), the Government is also consulting on allowing changes from B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) to C3 as well.

The new rules would only allow change of use. Where a development requires additional work to the exterior of an existing building, or is a new build development, a planning application for operational development will still be required, but the areas of contention should be reduced.

There is a secondary proposal to allow more than just one single flat to be provided above shops and other town centre premises.

The consultation was published on 8 April 2011 and runs until 30 June 2011.

For further information about the Government’s planned relaxation on change of use from commercial to residential please call commercial law solicitor Nick Arthur on 01271 372128 or email him on [email protected]

Change of Use Planning Laws to be Relaxed