Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, yesterday re-emphasised that Office-to-Residential permitted development rights will now be made permanent.

Crucially he has also today clarified that:

  1. Those who already have permission will have 3 years in which to complete the change of use – therefore ending potential uncertainty for developers.
  2. The rights will in future allow the demolition of office buildings and new building for residential use. (This will be subject to limitations and prior approval by the local planning authority and further details will be provided by the Government in due course.)
  3. New permitted development rights will also enable the change of use of light industrial buildings and launderettes to new homes. (This will be subject to prior approval by the local planning authority and further details will be provided by the Government in due course.)
  4. Those areas that are currently exempt from the Office-to-Residential permitted development rights will have until May 2019 to make an Article 4 direction if they wish to continue determining planning applications for the change of use. There are areas in 17 local authorities in England consisting of individual buildings, roads or zones that are currently exempt from the rights, including:
  • The City of London
  • The London Central Activities Zone, which covers parts of the boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea
  • Areas in the borough councils of Stevenage, and Ashford (Kent)
  • Areas in the district councils of Sevenoaks and East Hampshire
  • Manchester City Centre

(These exemptions will remain in place until May 2019, providing time for local authorities to consider making an Article 4 direction to remove the rights and require a planning application for any proposed change of use.)