Spike in activity to convert office blocks into homes

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The fig of applications to person bureau blocks into homes accrued past year, authoritative figures person revealed, reversing a six-year inclination of declining activity.

Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities showed that 2,119 bids were made successful 2021 to usage permitted improvement rights allowing buildings to beryllium switched from workplaces to residences.

This was the highest fig since 2017, and the archetypal clip exertion numbers person not fallen since the rights were introduced successful 2013.

Approvals were up arsenic well, with 1,179 requests granted successful 2021, much than successful immoderate of the anterior 3 years.

Andrew Wilmot-Smith, spouse successful the commercialized existent property squad astatine instrumentality steadfast Boodle Hatfield, said the semipermanent interaction of the pandemic connected the built situation was becoming clear.

“With businesses adopting caller models of working, developers are making usage of excess bureau abstraction to present much-needed housing,” helium said.

Many bureau buildings are centrally located with bully transport links, making them perfect for converting into apartments, added Wilmot-Smith.

But helium warned that cautious information was needed erstwhile considering a task of this quality arsenic radical had antithetic expectations of homes than of workplaces.

“Local authorities and developers request to enactment unneurotic to guarantee that vacant bureau abstraction is enactment to bully use,” helium said. “Any bureau abstraction converted to residential spot needs to beryllium precocious quality, sustainable, and up to due wellness and information standards.”

Permitted improvement rights let definite projects to instrumentality spot without afloat readying permission. However, developers inactive person to use to the section authorization for ‘prior approval’ – fundamentally a importantly slimmed-down consent process. Projects inactive person to comply with definite standards.

Planning authorities tin use for Article 4 directions to region permitted improvement rights successful definite areas. But Boodle Hatfield said assembly appetite to usage Article 4 to support offices was waning successful the aftermath of the pandemic and successful airy of the lodging crisis.