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Permitted development rights for light industrial buildings

Published on Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Light industrial premises can now be transformed into private residences without the need for planning permission.


These new permitted development rights enables the change of use of a building Class B1(c) or light industrial to Class C3 or dwelling houses.

The changes came into force on 1st October 2017 for three years enabling local authorities to potentially withdraw the rights. However, any change of use itself during this period will be permanent so a light industrial building which becomes a dwelling cannot be changed back to its original use should the local authority withdraw rights by introducing an Article 4 Direction.

Whilst planning permission is not needed, changes of use need to be approved by the local authority and there are limitations such the minimum gross floor space of the existing building cannot exceed 500 sq m.

The changes offer a significant opportunity for developers but the question is how many buildings would be suitable for conversion particularly with the rules not allowing for external alterations.

Permitted development rights for change of use from offices to residential were first introduced with a limited time which saw a rush of developments underway before the original May 2016 deadline but the rules were made permanent in October 2015. Kingston and the surrounding area is not alone in experiencing a decline of Grade A office space as a result of these changes which has contributed to commercial property rent rises as premises remain in short supply.

At the same time as the permanent permitted development rights were announced for offices, the government gave the go ahead for light industrial premises to receive the same treatment albeit for an initial three years.

Now light industrial use premises are part of the permitted development rights picture it will provide an interesting alternative. It’s early days yet, but we haven’t seen too much activity in the sector with developers transforming light industrial units into homes in quite the same way that we continue to see this happening with office space. Nor do we expect this to change dramatically. Light industrial units aren’t so prevalent, the local authority does have to be consulted and unlike office space, such premises aren’t quite so straightforward to develop into dwellings. We will, however, continue to watch the space with interest.



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