Offices, launderettes and industrial units could all become places to live in, according to the government’s latest solution to the housing crisis, heralded as another “planning shakeup” to breathe life in to unused properties.
However in a bid to solve one crisis the new Housing and Planning Bill is potentially paving the way for another. Critics fear it will accelerate the hollowing out of London, speeding up the process of suburbanisation that is fast leaving the capital with no affordable places to work.
The proposed changes in legislation will extend “permitted development” rights, allowing offices and light industrial buildings to be converted in to housing without the need for planning permission or the usual obligations to provide affordable housing.
First introduced as a temporary measure in 2013 to give housebuilding numbers a boost, and originally due to expire in May 2016, the proposed new legislation would see the rule made permanent.
Although the move has been welcomed by the British Property Federation, which says the rules will be “a useful tool in breathing life back into underused commercial space”, the Town and Country Planning Association warns the changes could result in a loss of potential affordable housing whilst allowing more substandard private flats to be carved out of buildings never intended to be used. They also caution local communities will have less say over how their neighbourhoods are developed.
We provide a range of professional, affordable architectural services and free planning and design advice. If you have any questions or an architectural project in mind, please contact us today.