Do you need planning permission to change office to residential?

By in Resource with 0 Comments

These days, the demand for office is experiencing a decline due to the COVID-19 crisis that’s compelling a huge number of people to work from home. As a result, commercial property owners are somewhat forced to find new uses for their properties. And when it comes to converting a property from one use to another, office to residential is still considered as one of the most attractive options.

When you convert an office to a residential property, you’ll be changing its use class. Though generally, planning permission is required to change use class, in this case, you may or may not need to obtain it. Let’s check the details.

Planning permission and conversion of office to residential property

Before you start converting an office into a residential property, keeping the following things in mind would help you to avoid future financial and/or legal problems.

Here in the U.K., permitted development rights have been introduced by the GPDO amendment, which came into force in 2016, to change the use of offices (B1) to residential properties (C3). Though this order eliminated the mandatory requirement of obtaining planning permission to change the use of class B1 to C3, you may still need to consult with your local authority.

Prior approval

It’s important to understand that the use of permitted development rights (PDR) is subject to prior approval from the local authority of the area where you are planning to perform the conversion work. Typically, the local authority will review the following aspects before giving consent.

  • Contamination risks
  • Flood risks
  • Transport and highways
  • Noise

Restrictions on permitted development rights

In the U.K., permitted development rights aren’t applicable to the entire country. There are certain areas and buildings where and which cannot be converted without obtaining planning permission. These include:

  • Conservation areas
  • National parks (and specified lands outside their boundaries)
  • A listed building
  • A safety hazard zone
  • An ancient monument
  • Areas of outstanding natural beauty
  • A military explosives area

Article 4 directions

In the above-mentioned cases, the local authorities may remove permitted development rights and your prior approval application using Article 4 directions. Simply put, an Article 4 direction makes it mandatory to obtain planning permission to convert an office into a residential property. That’s why we strongly suggest you to check with the local council to know whether or not Article 4 directions apply to your site before starting the project.

Conversion of a listed building

If the property you are planning to convert belongs to listed buildings, which means it has some historic or architectural interest or importance, not only will you need to obtain planning permission but listed building consent may be required as well. You may also need to use specific building materials or follow a specific standard so that the building’s history remains preserved.

Introduction of class E

From September 1st, 2020, the new use class E has been introduced in the U.K. while abolishing the B1 use class. It means now, offices fall under the new class E that lets you change any of the uses freely within this class. However, during the transition period, which will continue until July 31st, 2021, the older use classes will be followed by the GPDO. It means the existing permitted development rights continue to be in effect until then.

Final words

While converting an office building into a residential property can bring a good opportunity for investors to make a significant profit, the process involves various complexities as well. To simplify the process and avoid future complications, it’d always be a prudent decision to thoroughly consider the available use class changes and associated legalities. It’s also strongly advised to seek professional guidance before starting the conversion project, regardless of its volume.

Share This

Reserving Your Property

What Are The Steps?

1. One of our dedicated consultants will contact you to discuss your new property purchase and answer any questions you may have.

2. We send you our Non-Disclosure & Non-Circumvent Agreement and Finders Fee Agreement for you to sign. These standard agreements protect all parties involved from disclosing confidential information about the vendors and the deal or contacting them directly.

3. You Pay your Finders Fee. We understand that you may feel uncomfortable paying your Fee at this stage, but this Fee is fully refundable and gives you exclusivity to the deal so that no other buyer can access it.

4. We arrange for you to go and view the property. We believe it is important that you or your representative view the property you are about to purchase to make sure that it is the right fit. We ask that you make yourself available to view the property promptly as most of the vendors are looking for a quick sale and require speed and certainty.

5. After viewing the property, we will discuss your feedback. You decide whether you wish to proceed with the purchase/ rental.

6. If you wish to proceed, that’s fantastic. We will send you a Purchase Agreement and request some basic information: Full name and address of the buyer, proof of I.D, address, and solicitor details etc.

7. If you do not wish to proceed, that’s ok too. We will refund 100% of your Finders Fee. You email [email protected], and we will ensure a full refund within 48 hours of your email.

Sourcers Info

1. Upload Your Property to our Portal

After you have created your User Account, you can proceed to upload your property deals.

2. Assessing your deal

One of our Support Team will review and assess your property and will call you to finalise the details if required.

For us to assess and publish  your property, you will need to upload:

Full Address
Pictures of the property
Videos if available
Comparables of similar properties sold in the area and for sale
Rental comparables

If we are happy with everything, we will publish your property live on our site for waiting buyers to access.

3. Prospective Buyer

As soon as your listing is live, our buyers will be able to view the property details and contact us to reserve your property. Our Support Team will speak with the buyer to formally reserve the property and arrange a viewing. We will liaise with you to fix the most convenient time with the vendor for viewing.  There is a better prospect of agreeing on a sale if the buyer views the property quickly, so we ask that you are flexible & prompt with the viewing arrangements.  

4. Completing Your Sale

Once the buyer has agreed to purchase your property, our team will manage the process until completion. We are available to assist with all matters to get the deal closed as quickly as possible. 

We are available by email: [email protected]

We are transparent about our fees, and we split the Finders Fee on a 50/50 basis on properties sold.