The Prime Minister's Office has announced the Government's intention to make permanent the current temporary permitted development rights (PDR) − allowing a change of use from offices to residential. The Government's full news release can be read here.

The current temporary PDR, which includes a prior approval process, was introduced in 2013 but is due to expire on 30 May 2016. In recent weeks there has been much speculation as to whether the PDR would be abandoned, or retained in either an (extended) temporary or permanent form.

Judging by the response of the British Property Federation, the development industry will be pleased with this decision, the driving force behind which is clearly the housing shortage making front page news. Indeed the news release, which sets out a series of measures, is entitled 'Councils must deliver local plans for new homes by 2017'.

The above news release was followed yesterday by a statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), under the banner 'Thousands more homes to be developed in planning shake up'. The DCLG release confirms the above, but includes two important additions:

  1. Those who already have permission under the current temporary PDR will have three years in which to complete their change of use.
  2. The permanent PDR will allow the demolition of office buildings and their replacement by new build residential. This would however be subject to prior approval, details for which are yet to be released.

For those 17 local authorities that have secured exemptions from the office to residential PDR, the exemptions will remain in place until 2019 giving them the opportunity to make a replacement Article 4 direction.

In the same statement, DCLG also confirmed it would be introducing the right to change use from light industrial buildings and launderettes to residential, again subject to prior approval. Further details on that are to be released in due course.