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News - 19 August 2013
Convert it to a home?

Draft shops-to-residential change of use proposals published

Following on from the relaxation of rules governing conversion of offices to residential accommodation, the government is consulting on the same relaxation for shops.

The consultation seeks view on proposals for permitted development rights to allow:
  • Shops and financial and professional services to change use to a residential accommodation.
  • Retail uses to change to banks and building societies.
  • Premises used as offices, hotels, residential and non-residential institutions, and for leisure and assembly, to be able to change use to nurseries providing childcare.

The consultation document adds that "defining what sites would or would not be appropriate to change from retail to residential use, through a permitted development right, is challenging". It says there is "no precise and consistent term that could be used to frame a national permitted development right around a particular type of retail unit or site (e.g. that with a secondary frontage)".

The consultation document proposes that permitted development rights would:
  • Apply to A1 (shops) and A2 (financial and professional services);
  • Have an upper threshold of 150 square metres
  • Allow conversion to a single dwelling house or a maximum of four flats, but not a small house in multiple occupation [HMO]
  • Enable external modifications sufficient to allow for the conversion to residential use
  • Not apply to conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage sites).

The consultation also proposes a new permitted development right for shops to be turned into banks or building societies. It says the current system which does not allow this, "reflects the time when financial services generally had office-like frontages which were considered to break up the retail character of a street. This is less true now with banks and building societies adopting a more retail-like approach to the design of their premises". The Department for Communities and Local Government said the change would mean "more branches in the high street and more choice for consumers".

The draft proposals in their current form would allow "offices (B1), hotels (C1); residential institutions (C2); secure residential institutions (C2A) and assembly and leisure (D2) to change use to nurseries providing childcare and carry out limited building works connected with the change of use".

The consultation closes on 15 October.

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