The Government has issued a statement on 13 October 2015 confirming that the temporary permitted development right to convert office premises to residential, subject to local authority prior approval of specified matters, is to become permanent. This was originally introduced as a temporary permitted development right in May 2013 and was due to expire in May 2016. Light industrial buildings (and laundrettes should you happen to have any) will also benefit from a similar right. There has been an issue over how existing but incomplete schemes would be treated where all of the specified matters have been approved but where the change of use was not going to have been fully implemented by March 2016. The announcement just tells us that there will be a three year period but we don’t know when that starts.
Local authorities that had been granted an exemption from the office to resi permitted development right should be able to continue their usual process for determining a planning application for change of use but we are awaiting further detail on the subject of local authority exemptions and Article 4 directions.