CrowdProperty has welcomed new planning rules that came into force in England, making it easier for developers to convert commercial properties into residential homes.
The rules, introduced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, allow unused commercial buildings to be changed into homes through a simpler ‘prior approval’ process instead of a full planning application while being subject to high standards to ensure they provide adequate natural light and meet space standards.
The rules also include a new fast track for extending public service buildings and allow for bigger extensions to existing public buildings including schools, colleges, universities and hospitals.
“We hugely welcome any barriers to residential property development coming down and there is no doubt at the overall planning system is one of a number of major frustration for developers and constraints to much needed housebuilding in the UK,” said Mike Bristow, chief executive of peer-to-peer property lending platform CrowdProperty.
“When we did a survey of over 500 small – and medium-sized enterprise developers and asked them what changes would be most powerful to enable them to build more homes, number four was an improved tax policy and the government is working on that while number three was an improved planning system and this is very much at the heart of that so we hugely welcome it.”
In addition, the rules introduced an amendment of existing permitted development rights for ports so that they have the same freedoms as airports for undertaking development.
There are also changes to the demolition permitted development right to ensure the removal of unlisted heritage assets is subject to due process and proper consultation via planning
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“We are creating the most small business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic,” said Jenrick.
“By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes, we can help the high street to adapt and thrive for the future.
“The public also want improvements to public services as quickly as possible and so these changes will also help schools and hospitals to adapt quickly to changing needs with a new fast track for extending public service buildings. This will help deliver more classrooms and hospital space by helping them extend further and faster.”