The office to residential permitted development right will become permanent in May 2016.
In May 2013, a new Class J permitted development right was inserted into the GPDO 1995 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2013. This Class J granted planning permission for a change of use of a building and any land within its title from class B1(a) (offices), to within class C3 (dwellinghouses), however this was a temporary right. This Class J was then converted to Class O in 2015.
There are a number of commercial areas within local authorities were the right is not permitted. This affects 17 local authorities, predominately City of London, parts of Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. This will continue until 2019 and we will then need to see the Governments response.
On 12 October 2015, the Prime Minister announced that the temporary right will be made permanent. This is part of a package of housing related initiatives with the aim to create one million homes by 2020.
Under the temporary right, almost 4,000 office to residential conversions were given the go ahead from April 2014 to June 2015. This permitted development right is only one of the measures to be introduced to achieve the government target of one million new homes.
This policy was not intended to provide a large number of new homes but will give certainty for those developers looking to convert offices into homes, and to reuse underused commercial building and spaces.