For a limited three year period from May 2013, the Government is offering the opportunity to convert offices to residential use without going through the costly and protracted process of obtaining planning permission. The scheme appears to have been successful in its aim of increasing housing provision, with press reports suggesting that more than 2,500 applications were made within the first six months.
The ‘prior approval’ process undertaken by the Local Authority requires assessment of only three technical areas:
Following a successful telemarketing campaign offering a cost-effective package covering all three services, RPS London has been providing technical advice to assist commercial property owners to unlock the potential of underused office stock.
Provision of these services has involved a joint venture between the HS&E (contamination and flood risk) and P&D (transport) teams in London, with clients welcoming the opportunity to deal with a single contact for all technical elements.
RPS London has provided technical support for numerous successfully approved Permitted Development schemes, with recent clients including Cluttons, Jones Lang LaSalle, BPTW and Rolfe Judd. Schemes have ranged in size from 6 studio flats up to 112 one and two bed apartments.
Recent changes to the Permitted Development Order will potentially offer further opportunities, with changes of use from shops, certain commercial premises and agricultural buildings to residential use now falling under the regime. Changes of use to state-funded schools and registered nurseries are also included.