Update: Reform of Change of Use from Office to Residential

A government notice regarding the proposed relaxation to the change of use from office to residential has been issued by the Department for Communities & Local Government: –

‘New permitted development rights which will allow offices to be converted into housing without the need for planning permission have been formally announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This new regime will last for three years. However, local authorities will be able to seek a local exemption where this can be justified on economic grounds.

Planning Permission Exemption

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “We will only grant an exemption in exceptional circumstances, where local authorities demonstrate clearly that the introduction of these new permitted development rights in a particular local area will lead to (a) the loss of a nationally significant area of economic activity or (b) substantial adverse economic consequences at the local authority level which are not offset by the positive benefits the new rights would bring.”

The department said the new right would provide badly needed homes for local people and will make a valuable contribution to easing the national housing shortage. It would also boost jobs creation in the construction industry and increase footfall in high streets and help town centre regeneration.

The administration also said there would be further reforms to allow agricultural buildings to be converted for other business uses without the need for planning permission.

Planning Minister Nick Boles said: “These new changes ensure the very best use is made of our existing buildings to provide new homes and makes sure we get the most use we can out of our previously developed land.

“We are determined to make sure perfectly good underused properties are converted for homes and uses that will benefit our communities.”

Chief planning officer Steve Quartermain has written to planning authorities setting out guidance.’


It is believed that Westminster will be applying for exemptions to this legislation in which case the existing employment zones could still apply.