New planning measures announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles this month aim to ensure that empty and under-used offices can be swiftly converted into housing to make the most use out of previously developed land. New permitted development rights will allow office space to be converted into new homes without the need for planning permission from the local authority.

The permitted development right will be in place for three years, and because local circumstances vary, local authorities will have an opportunity to seek an exemption if they can demonstrate there would be substantial adverse economic consequences. The new rules will allow a range of buildings to temporarily convert for up to two years, and are set to speed up the process of bringing vacant high street buildings back into use.

Eric Pickles says: “We want to promote the use of brownfield land to assist regeneration, and get empty and under-used buildings back into productive use. Using previously developed land and buildings will help us promote economic growth, provide more homes and still ensure that we safeguard environmentally protected land. We are absolutely determined to support people striving to bring life back to their communities and high streets.”

Planning Minister Nick Boles adds: “These new changes ensure the very best use is made of our existing buildings to provide new homes and makes sure we get the most use we can out of our previously developed land. These changes are an important step in improving the planning system and making sure it is in the best possible shape to swiftly adapt to changes and opportunities that can provide a big boost to the economy. We are determined to make sure perfectly good under-used properties are converted for homes and uses that will benefit our communities.”