According to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 189,650 dwellings were added to the housing stock between April 2015 and March 2016 – representing a rise of 11% on the year before. This growth in the number of dwellings has been largely attributed to an increase in the number of commercial properties, such as offices, shops and even pubs, being converted into residential flats.
So what has caused the influx of office to residential conversions?
With the economic ups and downs of recent years, the market has seen a significant number of commercial properties lying vacant, leading to landlords having to pay empty rates and buildings going to ruin. In response to this, the Government introduced Permitted Development Rights (PDRs), leading to a rise in office to residential conversions.
PDRs – which enable developers to perform certain types of work without requiring planning permission – have made it a lot easier for developers to convert commercial stock into residential property. PDRs apply where the need for planning permission would be out of proportion for the impact of the works to be carried out. They derive from permission granted by Parliament under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, rather than local authorities. The result has been a smoother and simpler process which is far less convoluted than going through the lengthy, expensive and uncertain planning application process.