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Conversion and Stress: Part Two

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

Last month, we looked at the issue of ‘conversion stress’ and how you can overcome this to unearth opportunities in your target area. This relates to policy imposed by the local planning authority to control the number of single dwelling houses in a street that would be allowed to convert to smaller units – either as HMOs or as flats.

In this month’s article, we look at how the issues looked at last month were applied to a recent case in the London Borough of Lambeth, where we successfully obtained planning permission to extend and split an existing family dwelling into three separate flats.

The property
We were instructed to seek permission for the conversion of and extensions to a 4-bedroom property in a terraced street in the London Borough of Lambeth. The initial proposals sought to provide 4 flats – 1 x 3-bedroom 6-person, 2 x 2-bedroom 4-person and 1 x 1-bedroom 2-person.

The property is not listed but is in a Conservation Area and in a street under ‘conversion stress’.  

Clarifying the Conversion Stress Policy (CSP)
Lambeth’s existing Local Plan policy relating to properties caught by a CSP was not very clear. It was poorly drafted and provided no clear certainty in any given situation for a developer to know whether or not they would fall outside the policy.

The existing policy had, for instance, no minimum size threshold such as one might say that if, for example, the property is more than 150sqm in size then the council would accept conversion in principle. In addition, it did not clearly state whether one had to re-provide a family dwelling within the converted building.

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