Opinion

New planning law | Redundant commercial buildings can be repurposed into new homes without planning permission

Published: 28th July 2020
Area: Real Estate & Planning

New planning law | Redundant commercial buildings can be repurposed into new homes without planning permission

Build, build, build” was the phrase used by Boris Johnson last month as reforms were promised to get the nation building more “fantastic new homes on brownfield sites’”.

However, before you can ‘build, build, build’, you need to get planning permission - and that is still too often a hurdle which prevents the delivery of much needed new homes.

What are the proposed changes to planning laws?

Councils have often rolled out planning policies protecting ‘employment land’ from housing, even when it is no longer commercially viable.  They’ve also often sought to apply the same burdensome Section 106 obligations and standards to sites where viability is marginal.

However, such restrictions are to be swept away as the Government are stepping in with the promise of allowing the demolition and rebuilding of vacant and redundant commercial buildings for new homes without requiring planning permission.

Well, almost…. There is still a ‘prior approval process’ to be obtained from the Councils.  Issues such as design, noise, traffic, parking, and amenity will therefore still need to be addressed as the Government wish to achieve quality and avoid the criticisms of its approach to allowing conversions of commercial buildings under this approach.

But critically, buildings must have been "entirely vacant for at least six months prior to the date of the application for prior approval", and built before 1 January 1990.  In addition, the new building cannot be larger than the footprint of the existing building and cannot exceed a maximum footprint of 1,000 square metres.

That clearly reduces the effectiveness of this option for some sites, however it may still provide a useful ‘fall-back’ argument with the Council and could enable a phased approach to site redevelopment.

Contact us
For advice and support on how you can use this new measure to your advantage, or any other planning query, contact Gary Stephens in our planning consultancy team Marrons Planning.

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