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Converting Opportunities

Converting large houses to flats creates fantastic opportunities for many SME developers, but the process can be littered with planning hurdles and challenges that often require a thoughtful strategy to make the most of the site.

There are no permitted development rights for such projects and therefore it will engage several typical planning issues along the way and require a full application for planning permission.

A recent case that we successfully took through planning in Wembley, North London, demonstrates this and the potential of the right opportunity to deliver very attractive gains.

Find the right size of building
The size and location of the building is critical to maximising residential conversion opportunities.

It is important that the house is large enough for conversion, and it is for this reason that many local authorities have ‘threshold’ policies that often prevent the conversion of smaller family dwellings. For instance, some Councils set a limit at 130sqm GIA, while other Councils set a higher GIA limit. You need to check if the threshold area relates to the ‘current’ property or only the ‘original’ – if the former, then you might be able to meet the limits through initial ground or roof level extensions to the size of the property.

The threshold might also be expressed in terms of the number of bedrooms. You need to check the specific policies of your Council area as these threshold policies often differ from one local authority to the next.

Some Councils also have other policies to prevent or control conversions, such as an allowable percentage of properties in a street or road, or ‘zoning’ of part of a Council area to highlight areas of ‘Conversion Stress’ where special controls will apply to conversion.

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