PDR changes welcomed

The Government’s announcement that it is making permanent previously temporary permitted development rights (PDR) for the conversion of offices to residential property is a huge step forward in enabling the creation of much needed new homes.

Originally introduced in 2013, temporary permitted development rights allowed the conversion of existing underused office buildings into flats and apartments, with some 4000 homes having been created in the intervening period.

The confirmation that office to residential conversion is now a permanent fixture of the planning process was coupled with much needed clarification that developers will have three years from first prior approval to complete PDR schemes. This has ended anxiety for developers with existing permissions to who would previously have needed to complete schemes by May 2016.

One of the most significant additions to updated permitted development rights is that it also includes light industrial premises and some other types of commercial property. In addition they also allow for office buildings to be demolished to make way for new residential development. Something which housebuilders will welcome without doubt.

The announcements came alongside the launch of the Housing and Planning Bill which addresses a host of issues such as the creation of starter homes, interventions into local plans, sale of high value council homes, a register of brownfield sites and a focus on bringing more of these into redevelopment.

“We are all very aware of the need to create more homes,” commented Rupert Farrant of Durlings. “The Government has plans for a 1 million new homes by 2020.

“That’s an ambitious target particularly given their commitment to protecting the green belt. By making permitted development rights permanent and sensibly extending them to incorporate other types of stock and allow demolition too, property owners, developers and residential housebuilders can be creative in bringing underused sites back into use.

“That was a key reason in the recent launch of Durlings Brownfield campaign. By identifying the region’s previously developed ‘grot spots’ I believe we can both bring them back into sensible use and help protect our green fields too.

“It will be interesting to see how the new Bill and in particular the changes to CPO might having a bearing locally. For example, the cinema site in Tunbridge Wells. With these latest changes there’s scope for the Borough Council to push for long overdue action on the site.”

For more information about Durlings Brownfield campaign go to www.durlings.co.uk/brownfield.

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