Disused office space to be turned into residential use

New rules have been created, to make it possible to convert disused offices into homes without having to obtain planning permission.

It is thought that a large number of former offices could now be turned into private rental blocks.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “New permitted development rights will enable offices to be converted to homes. This is an opportunity for office owners and developers to bring outdated and underused buildings back to life and create much-needed new housing.”

However, 17 local authorities have opted out of the three-year planning exemption.

London boroughs include: the City of London, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Outside London, they are: Vale of the White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford (Kent), the district councils of Sevenoaks, and East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council.

Later this year, the Government will consult on similar plans to turn redundant shops and farm buildings into homes.

Tips for successfully gaining planning permission – part II

Following on from our previous post, here is the second instalment of our top tips for maximising your chances of gaining planning permission for alterations to residential property:

  • It pays to be realistic. Applying for planning permission for modifications that will make your property stick out like a sore-thumb is almost guaranteed to be rejected. Take a good look at properties in your area that have had extensions and renovations in the past couple of years and use this as an approximate gauge for what is acceptable.
  • Making highly disruptive modifications without consulting your nearby neighbours is not only impolite, it can also hamper the work you are carrying out if they choose to launch an objection with your local council. A trip over the fence (sweet treats optional) to explain the work you are planning and how long it will take is common courtesy and should help negate future objections.
  • Never try to cheat the planning system, regardless of how frustrating it gets. Penalties for breaching planning rules include fines of up to £20,000 and the possibility of jail. Councils also have the right to send workmen to your home to, quite literally, tear down unauthorised alterations at your expense!

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