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Viewpoint - 09/05/2013

LSH welcomes government boost for office conversions

The changes to the Use Classes Order announced in today’s ministerial statement from Eric Pickles and the Department for Communities and Local Government have been welcomed.

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This relaxation of planning law will allow many sites, held up by out of date employment allocations and outdated policies on the protection of employment land, to finally become available for beneficial use.

Download our guide to the Use Classes Order and change of use

A kick-start for development

Mark Dodds, National Head of Planning and Development Consultancy said: “Our recent research identified that over 7.4m sq ft of obsolete offices in the UK could take advantage of this legislation change helping to provide new homes, remove outdated office stock from the market and give a much-needed kick start to development.”

“While many misguided authorities who have held on to redundant sites in the face of a declining employment base will lament their loss of control, the development industry will now be able to recycle that redundant stock.”

A positive step by government

The government has taken a positive step by limiting exemptions for the change of use from office to residential to specific areas and zones and not blanket blocking whole districts. Only specific areas in 17 local authorities have been selected, including the London Central Activities Zone and central Manchester.

Mark concluded: “Overall the direction of policy should be welcomed. We await the response of the public sector as local authorities scramble to retain control of employment sites using the thin tools left at their disposal through the prior notifications process.”

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