Property industry welcomes offices to homes plan

Robyn Hall

January 28, 2013

In a statement from the secretary of state Eric Pickles, he said that proposals to ease the planning rules would go ahead following consultation last year.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: “Given our acute shortage of homes this is an extremely welcome step.

“Office to residential conversions won’t work for all buildings or in every area but any trip through our suburbs soon exposes redundant office space that with the best will in the world is never going to be brought back into commercial use.”

Pickles said: “The Coalition Government believes that a swift and responsive planning system is vital for delivering sustainable development.

“We want to promote the use of brownfield land to assist regeneration, and get empty and under-used buildings back into productive use.

“Using such previously developed land and buildings will help us promote economic growth and still ensure that we safeguard environmentally protected land.”

Fletcher said such conversions will be good for those seeking homes, the wider community and local authorities who will gain from the New Homes Bonus and council tax receipts that occupation generates.

But he added: “ We will need to see further detail on how local exceptions schemes will work. Any exemptions should be few and far between and this aspect will need to be tightly drawn and policed if it is not to undermine the overall policy objective.”

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